NZ Trip: TransAlpine journey – Christchurch to Hokitika

July 12, 2023
New Zealand

Day 3 (15 May)

Day 3 of our south island of New Zealand holiday and we were up early this morning to go by taxi to Christchurch Railway Station. We were going on the TransAlpine train journey across to Greymouth and were very excited about it too! It was pouring with rain on this morning. I remember the struggle getting all our luggage out to the taxi in the pouring rain and then again from the taxi to the cover of the train station. We got there in the end, a little damp but excited for the adventures ahead!  The weather cleared pretty soon after leaving Christchurch which was great. We saw some of the most beautiful scenery along the journey, and our first sighting of snow capped mountains! The four little video’s below provide you with some tiny little glimpses of the experience. Most are 5 seconds each but one is a massive 11 seconds!

The TransAlpine train trip from Christchurch to Greymouth through the Southern Alps, from the east coast to the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island takes about 4 hours. You’re travelling west crossing the Canterbury Plains. The train slowly ascends through spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River towards the Southern Alps to the alpine village of Arthurs Pass for a short break before descending through the Otira Tunnel to the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, through lush alpine beech rain forests to Greymouth – the commercial centre of the South Island’s west coast. A lot of people got off at Arthurs Pass. There is a 1 hour stop at Greymouth where you can explore this town and experience west coast hospitality before your train returns to Christchurch. We got off at Greymouth and collected our rental car.

Once we had collected our rental car, we headed north along the coast road to visit the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. As you’ll see below, it was well worth the visit. It was breathtaking in fact! The foundations of the Pancake Rocks were formed 30 million years ago when minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed about 2 km below the surface. Immense water pressure caused them to solidify into layers of more resistant limestone and softer, thin, mud-rich layers. Gradually seismic action lifted the limestone above the seabed where water, wind and salt spray eroded the softer layers leaving a “pancake” like stack of harder limestone. Amazing, huh?

We then backtracked & headed south to Hokitika and checked into our accommodation. We stayed at Shining Star Beachfront Accommodation in a beachfront chalet and saw the most beautiful sunset that night. We had a delicious dinner at Stumpers Bar & Cafe.

Day 4 (16 May)

After having a light breakfast in our chalet (using our own small food stash) and then checking out, we decided to go have a look around the town of Hokitika.

Hokitika is 40 kilometres south of Greymouth where our TransAlpine train arrived, and close to the mouth of the Hokitika River. It’s the largest town in the Westland district and has a population of 2,860 (as of June 2022). The centrepiece of Hokitika would have to be its Clock Tower. It was erected in 1903 as a tribute to the 103 Westland men who fought in the Second Boer War (1899 – 1902) in South Africa and as a memorial to the four soldiers who died. The landmark also recognised the coronation of Edward VII. He reigned as King of the United Kingdom from 1901 until 1910. I particularly wanted to check out some Greenstone (Jade) which Hokitika is reknown for. Unfortunately most shops were still closed but we did find one Greenstone store open thankfully. I didn’t buy anything but it had a wonderful display of all the different kinds of Greenstone. You can see a display of a variety of different Greenstone in the photos and video below plus as a bonus in the video you’ll hear the very ‘unique’ laugh of a chatty customer who was also in the store!

New Zealand

Hokitika Clock Tower

Sadly, we didn’t have much time to explore Hokitika because we had a 2 hr drive south to Franz Josef where we needed to check in by 1:30pm for a 2pm glaciers helicopter flight (Fox & Franz Josef glaciers). I would have loved to go to Hokitika Gorge to walk and explore but not enough time (good excuse to go back again!). We did drop in to the Treetop Walk because it was on the way. We had morning tea there and walked through the beautiful West Coast rainforest tree tops, even climbing the 106 steps to the top of the spiral tower which is where those that are doing the zipline depart from. We didn’t have time to do the zipline but YES I would do it if we’d have had time! It looked like a lot of fun! 

Next we headed off on our drive to Franz Josef.  Day 4 continues in the next NZ Trip post.

Ciao for now,

Linking up with Denyse Whelan’s ‘Wednesday’s Words and Pics


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  • Reply Lydia C. Lee July 12, 2023 at 8:24 am

    I love those tree top walks. Your sunset shots are beautiful. I’m looking forward to the glacier pics!!!!

    • Reply Min July 13, 2023 at 3:43 pm

      I love treetop walks too and that sunset was a lovely treat I must say! There’s a bit of a twist to the glacier pics. Stay tuned for that!

  • Reply Debbie Harris July 12, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    This was a wonderful recap of your trip Min. The little videos are a good way of showing the landscape and I love the zipline! We didn’t get to this area when we went to NZ so it’s good to read about your travels.

    • Reply Min July 13, 2023 at 3:44 pm

      Thanks Debbie – I found it so hard to capture what I was seeing with just a photograph, hence so many little videos. Most were little (short) because I was worried about running out of space on my phone!

  • Reply Leanne | July 12, 2023 at 4:47 pm

    New Zealand is such a pretty place – and also majestic too. You certainly got to see some pretty spectacular scenery Min. I admire you doing the treetop walk – we have one in the South of WA and I’m too scared to go on it – my fear of heights kicks in and I end up chickening out – I’d have stayed in the cafe and had an extra cuppa instead!

    • Reply Min July 13, 2023 at 3:46 pm

      Hi Leanne, the south Island of NZ is so beautiful. I miss it so much already. I didn’t know you were scared of heights! I didn’t have any fears doing the treetop walk OR going up the tower. If we’d have had time I’d have loved to do the zipline! I think (I know) it’d be a different story if I were up in a light aircraft or hot air balloon or something that held more risk!

  • Reply Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid July 14, 2023 at 5:37 am

    I love the video snippets – gosh New Zealand is stunning. The scenery is absolutely stunning. We really regret not visiting New Zealand when we lived in Australia where it was so much closer!

    • Reply Min July 17, 2023 at 10:09 am

      I love the video snippets too Sammie. They provide me with more of a ‘memory’ than a photo and they also capture more to share than a photo. Maybe you could incorporate a little trip over the ditch to NZ next time you visit Australia? xo

  • Reply Denyse Whelan July 14, 2023 at 10:24 am

    I love your trip’s recount and pics and enjoyed them when you were posting on line before you got back home too. Sadly I will never travel again and whilst it is a regret I am not too concerned because I have lived a lot of life, and I have friends who share as you do and I get quite an experience there.
    Great to see you sharing a post from your blog on this week’s Wednesday’s Words and Pics Link Up at Denyse Whelan Blogs To Connect. I hope to see you next week too. Warm wishes, Denyse.

    • Reply Min July 17, 2023 at 10:11 am

      Thanks Denyse! I hope to travel more while I can but I have no desire to see every corner of the earth. There are a few places though that are on my list to see and then there are places I’d like to revisit and I’d like to see more of Australia too. xo

  • Reply sherry July 14, 2023 at 1:20 pm

    isn’t NZ beautiful and breathtaking? We have visited several times and love it each time. Even tho it poured and poured and there were landslides and we nearly got stuck on the wrong side of the road by a massive slip. love the food and drink too. so many different things to here. and we loved the way everything acknowledged the Maori community – newspapers, road signs etc.

    • Reply Min July 17, 2023 at 10:14 am

      Hi Sherry – Yes – it’s stunning! I was in heaven over there – just beautiful everywhere we went. OMG – your description about landslides – how scary! Yes to how respectful they are of the Maori community and how incorporated their indigenous culture is into everything! We still need to see the north island but the south island I will definitely be going back to. Loved it so much!

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