In planning my South Island tour, I wanted to see and do everything, so naturally I sought out "one of the world's great journeys," the TranzAlpine. Depending on who you are, you may want to skip out on this one. I tried to make the most of a less than exciting ride through the middle of the South Island, and this is how I spent my two nights in the middle of nowhere.
I began in Christchurch and finished in Greymouth, with an overnight stay in Arthur's Pass. The ride can be done in one day, but you can break things up by staying overnight and hiking the next day.
I was over being hot, so I didn't want to trek all around the area, but did find some easy walks that were pretty and easily accessible.
Travel during peak season (January to mid-Feb) requires advance accommodation booking because the town is unbelievably tiny. Alternatively, I could have begun the train ride in Greymouth during my West Coast drive, but one visit to Greymouth is more than enough.
Staying in Arthur's Pass is definitely off the beaten path and out of the normal tourist circuit, and would probably be really pretty in winter.
Because it's a very small village, it's best to arrive with food, but there is a basic store with the essentials...at a price.
After purchasing a few essentials at the store, I dropped my duffel at the neighboring YHA, and began my walk around the area.
There are few walking paths from town, and I journeyed about 6 miles on the Arthur's Pass Walking Track.
There are several other options in the area, ranging from easy to epic.
I was in the mood for easy, and there are some great views from these little trails.
This area is so peaceful, so make sure you bring a book and simply relax. Once I hopped back on the train to Greymouth the next morning, it was a full day of pretty views.
There's not much to do in Greymouth except grab a quick dinner, wait for the train to turn around. I then hopped back on towards Christchurch, arriving by late evening.
It may not be the most exciting trip, but it is a change-up if you're ready to get off the bus, car, or normal loop of travel on the South Island. You can go for hikes, but that's about it.
Once I returned to Christchurch, I was able to walk to the Jailhouse hostel. The cells are large, and because of my good behavior, I was released in the morning. The novelty of this BBH hostel is fun, and it was easy to get there from the train station. It also happened to be right down the street from the Kiwi Experience bus pick-up for the final city on my loop around the South Island, Kaikoura.
TranzAlpine links and ideas:
Map from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass and onto Greymouth
TranzAlpine train is a nice option if you don't have a car.
Christchurch was where I began this journey, and is a great place to visit beforehand.
Greymouth is where you can begin, if you start on the west coast.
Arthur's Pass is one of a few stops you can make on the TranzAlpine.
Arthur's Pass Walking Track is a popular way to go, among other paths in the area.
YHA is clean and had everything I needed -- book early in high season.
The Sanctuary is BBH in town. It's cheap, but I don't know much else about it.
Jailhouse Accommodation is BBH in Christchurch. It's quirky, clean, and easily accessible from the train station.