The Mexicans say the Pacific has no memory… that’s where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory… which is not necessarily true, but it’s a nice quote from The Shawshank Redemption and we get to the Pacific in this post… so it works!!
However, when I left us we were on the West coast so have a bit of traveling to get there first!! As you may gather later on, I am a great fan of traveling by train, there is just something terribly relaxing about it. This is therefore the first of New Zealand trains…
Don’t worry, they do tend to be a bit more modern, but this is the Kingston Flyer, which alas didn’t start running until the Summer Season started in October. Which in itself seems a bit unusual to write. I’m not sure if P&J realised that I purposely picked this route, simply so we could stop here to stretch our legs and so I could have a look around… but I did. The joys of being the main driver!!
There is a certain quirkiness about places like New Zealand, that you will also find in Australia and Canada… something that is terribly British, but just wouldn’t be allowed here at home.
One due to space and the other would have the PC brigade up in arms!!
And driving through the mountains has the added advantage of meaning more gratuitous shots of snow-covered mountains and lakes for which the South Island is famous for. I could have probably have spent weeks just traveling up and down these mountains in a camper van, walking up a different hill everyday and then moving on to the next…
All of this driving however brought us into the semi-destroyed city that is Christchurch. I shall cover this city in more detail later on, mostly due to the fact that we were here only for one day. That and we’re about to get aboard the KiwiRail TranzCoastal from Christchurch up to Picton.
On of those things that always surprises me once you leave Europe is, with the exception of suburban routes, you find considerably less rail travel than you do at home. New Zealand is comparable to the UK in terms of size (it’s actually 21,000km2 more land) but it has only a quarter of the length of track*. Therefore there are only three rail routes of any distance. The TranzCoastal, the TranzAlpine and the Overlander.
We, however, are traveling on the TranzCoastal, which travels up the East Coast of the South Island, bringing us views of the Pacific Ocean…
Apparently, later in the season you can sometimes see dolphins and whales playing in the bays.
The train finally terminates in Picton, from where it is possible to catch the ferry across the Cook Straights to Wellington. We didn’t do this, deciding to spend the day in Picton and catching the ferry the next day.
Picton itself is one of those small seaside towns that most people just never visit. Straight from the station to the ferry terminal (or if by car, just plain missing the town). Which is a shame as it really is a lovely place. Probably helped by the glorious weather when we were there!!
And as you can see… there is very little traffic in the town… that and Canadians just aren’t used to roundabouts… ;o)
And on the morning of our departure, watching the morning fog roll out of the harbour…
* – it also has only 1/14th of the population of the UK