Hello there. Thank you for landing on my fantastic blog and reading my first post where it is a tribute to my father. If it were not for him, I would not have ventured out of the cosmopolitan cities in the land of the All Blacks, New Zealand. The youngest country on earth. He pestered me for years to accompany him on a scenic and out-of-this-world journey. This explains my association with him and New Zealand and why New Zealand holds a special place in my heart.
When we think about New Zealand, most of us would think about sheep and more sheep. There is vast amount of land in New Zealand. She is a sheep country but much more than that. New Zealand is a beautiful and serene country (despite lying on two tectonic plate and very prone to earthquakes). Manuka honey is produced here. Gisborne, a city which is located in the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand is the first city to see the sun each day. To discover more about New Zealand, please visit their official tourism site here.
It was almost two years later that I decided to bring my dad to New Zealand on this much awaited journey. We flew into Sydney for a few days in the early Australian winter month. From there we flew 3 hours and 5 minutes by Emirates Airline to Christchurch. New Zealand is best ventured by hiring a caravan and staying at caravan parks. For this time a caravan was not necessary as we plan to travel by rail to be on one of the World’s Most Scenic Train Rides.
The much anticipated journey my dad was raving about was the TranzAlpine scenic train journey between Christchurch and Greymouth. In 4.5 hours the TranzAlpine goes from the East Coast of South Island taking in Canterbury Plains to the magnificent Southern Alps and Wild West Coast.
From our carriages and through huge clear windows, we saw spectacular gorges and valleys of Waimakariri River below us.
The train climbs the Southern Alps via dramatic viaducts leading to Arthur’s Pass and onto Otira Rail Tunnel which is a tunnel created from blasting through 5.3 miles of solid rock. Otira is a town located 1239 feet above sea level.
Upon reaching Greymouth, we rented a car to get around the town. It rained very heavily that night. The next day, we drove to Franz Josef Glacier. Driving along the coast, we saw cotton white waves of the Tasman sea rolling high onto the beach a few metres away from us. A few cars and caravans past by us however, it seemed the entire stretch of the highway to Franz Josef belonged to us.
Due to global warming, glaciers all over the world are disappearing. The Franz Josef glacier has entered a rapid phase of retreat since 2008. When we went on our hike to Franz Josef Glacier, we were told we could not venture any nearer to walk on the glacier as the glacier had broken off the day before. Today, Franz Glacier including Fox Glacier is only accessible by air.
We drove back to Greymouth the following day to board our return train ride to Christchurch. As we showed our tickets for the train, we were told that a snow storm that night had covered Arthur’s Pass and it was inaccessible. We had to stay at Greymouth another day for maintenance workers to clear the snow that had fallen on the rail tracks leading to Arthur’s Pass . (Tip: always ensure you have travel insurance before you leave for a holiday abroad).
My dad and I had a day free to explore Greymouth. We arrived Christchurch safely the next evening for an overnight stay before getting on to our morning flight back to Sydney.
If you have had one too many shopping holidays or have had enough of Disney-themed holidays and wondering where to go on your next holiday destination, you could consider getting on the TranzAlpine during winter months in New Zealand. The breathtaking experience will be etched in your memory for a long, long time.
Fast forward 5 years today, my dad is now bed-ridden. However, the memories of our trip together have made his golden years happier and a life more enriched than it already was.
P.S: Thank you for reading my first post on my fantastic blog. Follow me for more fantastic posts and tips!