Road trip begins with an epic train journey!

Trip Start Apr 19, 2012
Trip End May 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hokitika Kiwi Holiday Park
Read my review - 2/5 stars

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 2 : Christchurch -> Greymouth -> Hokitika

We started our day early so that we can catch the train to Greymouth via the TranzAlpine which will depart at 8.15am. The benefit of staying at Jailhouse Accomodation is that they do provide free shuttle service to the train station. You just need to inform the reception earlier. We had to walk to the roadside outside the Jailhouse to wait for the van to pick us. The shuttle ride took less than 10mins to reach the station. Once we reached the station, I went to the counter to collect our tickets using the online booking number. Coincidentally, it was around the period of Anzac Day (falls on 25 April every year), I donated to the funds and I was provided with the poppy pins as token of appreciation. I wore the pins on my shirt.

The train was basically made up of 3 types of carriage. A passenger carriage, that was where the seats were. A cargo carriage where it stored all your luggages during your train boarding. The other type of carriage is called 'outside' carriage where it was open-air (no windows and seats) and function like a viewing deck. You could experience the scenery/environment first-hand. Just remember to wear your warm clothing as it could get very cold. We had our breakfast in the train as there was a cafe on board the train.

Tranzalpine is truly one of the world's greatest scenic train trips (250km) due to the dramatic contrast of dry beech forests and tussock land on one side of the Alps and lush green landscapes on the other. From Christchurch, we crossed the farmland of the Canterbury plains, the Waimakariri river, climbing into alpine scenery on a series of spectacular viaducts. We made a stop at Arthur's Pass to admire the scenery, before emerging from the long Otira Tunnel and descend through sub tropical rain forest past beautiful Lake Brunner before we reached Greymouth town. The journey took us approximately 5 hours and we reached Greymouth around 1pm.

At Greymouth, the campervan that we have booked earlier, was already waiting for us outside the station. The owners, Roy and Jane, lovely couple, had driven the campervan from their base in Nelson to Greymouth. This additional arrangement cost us additional surchage of NZD$300 unless we collected the campervan in Christchurch instead. The campervan was well maintained, no unnecessary worries about breakdowns, and they were very friendly people. I would highly recommend their services Sunrise Holidays.We went through a quick briefing on the daily/common operations and handling of the campervan. The campervan itself was a 6-seater, and it was very comfortable. We quickly settled down, then we went to do our groceries and bought some food for lunch. We planned to cook ourselves throughout this road trip.

By the time we were ready, it was already late in the evening and our original plan to drive 40mins north to Punakaiki Pancake Rocks was changed because we were told by Roy that told that the waves weren't that strong on that day, so we decided to drive around Greymouth, took some photos, and after head South to Hokitika. The distance between the two towns was approximately 40km and it took us about 50mins to reach our destination. We put up a night at Hokitika Holiday Park. Over here, I joined as member of Kiwi Holiday Parks (NZD$30, valid for 2 years) where we got discount card and entittled to further 10% discounts, whenever we stay at any of their holiday park. We used their kitchen facilities to cook our dinner. I also asked the park manager what was the nearest sight-seeing spot and she told us about the glowworm dell, roughly about 1km drive from the park. We went there after dinner. The dell can be found on the outskirts of Hokitika, on the lefthand side of the road if you come into the town from Greymouth (it's righthand side for us because we come from the holiday park direction). The glowworm spot is just 2 mins walk from the main road after we parked our campervan. There was a board that provided some information of these little glowing critters. The path leading to the dell is unlit, but had handrails to guide you. (Make sure you bring a torch with you) Once we reached, we switched off our torch and we experienced a lovely magical feeling as the small lights of the glowworms. I could not take any photos because my camera couldn't handle low light conditions. The dell needed to be pitch black in order to see the glowworms. To actually picture the glowworms, they actually looked stars in the sky at night. We retire for the night after the glowworm visit.
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