The TranzAlpine is rated as one of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world. I took a day trip from Christchurch, travelling as far as Moana, where I enjoyed a few hours solitude on the shores of Lake Brunner.
Approaching the Southern Alps across the wide Canterbury plains from Christchurch, I stood outside on the TranzAlpine's observation carriage, well wrapped up against a bitterly cold wind. Soon the train was winding alongside the gorges of the Waimakariri River, across precarious bridges and through tunnels as it entered the wilderness amongst the mountains.
Eventually the train reached Arthur's Pass, high up in the Alps. Three and half hours after setting off, I arrived at the small town of Moana, peaceful by the side of Lake Brunner. Rather than continuing to the west coast town of Greymouth, I got off the train to enjoy the serenity of Moana, until the train returned around 3 hours later.
Returning through Arthur's Pass, the weather grew increasingly bleak and cold. But then as the train continued east back to Christchurch, the grey clouds finally broke up, and the setting sun cast a pink glow over the mountains.