After missing the chance last Summer on my South Island trip, I took a spur-of-the-moment weekend away to ride the Tranz Alpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth through the Southern Alps.

MountainsFrom Springfield Train.jpgThe run goes more or less due west across the Canterbury Plain which is really the Canterbury Wedge, rising from 6 metres above sea level to 300 or so at Springfield where the mountains are really close.
RiverBed.jpgThe train has around a dozen carriages, nicely air-conditioned and double-glazed and an open-air observation car, where this river bed pic came from. It was freaking freezing and I could only stand it for around ten minutes. This is th reason for all the reflections.

ArthursPassSignReflectedFullFrame.jpgThe high point of the trip is the tiny station at Arthur’s Pass, named for Arthur Dobson, who discovered it, by his brother George, who surveyed others and decided Arthur’s pass was the best!
ArthursPassSign.jpg737 metres is around 2400 feet, the surrounding mountains range up to 2300 metres/~8000 feet. The track depends for its existence on the coal truck in the background. If it wasn’t for coal, the line would have closed years ago.

The train guard who also acted as tour guide made a point about erosion, saying that without it the mountains would be 20000 metres high and there’d be no Canterbury plain. And if water wasn’t as odd a molecule as it is, there’d be hardly any erosion (I added that bit).

Mountain Peak Spindrift.jpgOn the run down the west side of the divide there are places like this lake front where land sections start around 450000 NZD (~ USD 300000) on which you can build your dream home (and, as it turns out, be without cellphone coverage, broadcast radio, mains drainage and all those good things) but the views are spectacular, as is annual rainfall measured in feet rather than inches.


The end of the line for this trip is the port of Greymouth where I wandered about for a while and got back on the train for the return to Ch.Ch.
GreymouthStation.jpgWhile setting up these pics, I came across some from the Baltimore series and this one sort of fits the theme here: Millar ‘reflecting’ Youk’s batting stance:
MillarBeingYouk.JPGHe did a pretty good job, including the high right hand and the bum wiggles. Please, Theo, find something for Millar to do on the Sox staff.


  1. noni

    Great Pictures!
    I agree on Millar. We really miss that wacky personality.

    Looks like a good thing you missed the Sox/Yanks last night.


    John, fantastic pictures! What a beautiful part of the world you live in.

    And that picture of Millar?

    ::thumbs up::

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