KiwiRail and the Coastal Pacific rail journey

I’m happy to hear KiwiRail’s new scenic carriages have just entered service on the Coastal Pacific journey between Christchurch and Picton – and I hope to use them soon as the Coastal Pacific is a wonderful journey – maybe in April so I can travel from Picton to Kaikoura attend the annual Farewell to the Hutton’s shearwater as they head for Australia.

The new purpose-built (NZ built) scenic carriages have 52 square metres of glass in panoramic side and roof windows, ceiling mounted HD screens, and GPS triggered commentary in a choice of five languages.

The CoastPacific is a great journey - the last time I was on it was travelling from Picton to Christchurch in August 2011

Dr Hume (KiwiRail’s General Manager Passenger Services) said she was very excited to be introducing the new carriages along with a new menu and new staff uniforms.

We want to ensure a totally unique experience for our passengers. Our focus with these new carriages is on providing a more modern, sophisticated customer experience that people will remember and return to” she said. “.

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism has applauded the initiative as a milestone for South Island tourism. “It’s a great news story for tourism in our region. The stunning scenery along our coastline is a huge draw card for visitors and the new stylish carriages and service will ensure the Coastal Pacific’s reputation as one the world’s great train journeys,” said Ms Blanchfield (Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism’s Business Development Manager)

The two new passenger carriages, the café car, the viewing car and refurbished luggage will be in service on the Coastal Pacific for the coming months, before being also introduced to the TranzAlpine next year.

“Our passenger services are heading into their busiest season and these changes add up to a fantastic showcase for KiwiRail’s South Island passenger services,” says Dr Hume

Sailing across the Cook Strait then training down the Coastal Pacific

After sailing crossing the Cook Strait on the Interislander, yesterday I was on the first Picton to Christchurch train (after the February quake). The newly named CoastalPacific was great and more stories will follow.

In the meantime, here are a few photos from the trip on the Kaitaki and the TranScenic Coastal Pacific.

The Kaitaki leaves Wellington city behind
The observation carriage on the CoastalPacific is loved by photographers

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m staying at the wonderful boutique Classic Villa, right in the middle of the Cultural Precinct, Christchurch. (Check out the snow photos I posted too)

A ferry and rail trip to Christchurch coming up!

I’m off to Christchurch in 10-days: on the Interislander ferry (Kaitaki) and train (Coastal Pacific). This will be a great trip as the day I travel is the day the train service from Picton to Christchurch resumes which is fabulous for the region.

With talk of shifting the Picton terminal from the Marlborough Sounds (top of the South Island, New Zealand) to Clifford Bay I will make sure I enjoy it as  the Sounds may not be the preferred route forever! While this change would apparently save 50 minutes off the road trip from Christchurch (or 80 mins from the train journey) and 30 minutes from the sea trip that links the North and South Islands, it would also mean that travellers would miss some of the most beautiful cruising scenery in New Zealand – and the world. The 92km has breathtaking views and I’m hoping for another beautiful day so I can add more photos to my collection of pictures from the Interislander’s decks. Although, if it’s not wonderful I will be cosy in the Kaitaki Plus lounge!

These photos are from an earlier trip – come back to this site and hear about the trip and what’s happening with travel and tourism activities in Christchurch.

Kaitaki Plus Lounge

PS: I have just had another a train trip – on the Overlander, a 12-hour journey from Wellington to Auckland. What fabulous scenery is hiding from those who usually drive up there!  Paul Theroux says ‘trains are the only way to travel’ – it certainly was relaxing and no doubt the trip to Christchurch will be great too.

Off to Auckland from Wellington last week!