Grandma and her boys

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Part 2 of Train adventure

I do hope you can see this picture of the Raurimu Spiral.....

One of the things I had heard of on the North Island rail journey was the Raurimu Spiral and I finally came to experience it last week,  Slowly travelling the Spiral, listening to the commentary and watching the view was an inspiring experience. It was well worth the effort.

I quote  from a history pamphlet....
"A unique railway spiral and loop system with two tunnels.
The railway had to drop 700 feet in 4 miles, from an altitude of 2,663 feet at National Park, to 1,934 feet at Raurimu. The maximum gradient planned for on this line was 1:50 and the straight line gradient from National Park to Raurimu was 1:29!
Creating the spiral was the only way to get down the edge of the volcanic plateau. No better way has been found."
Once on the South Island we took the  Tranzcostal Train.

The TranzCoastal train travels between the delightful port of Picton - gateway to the beautiful Marlborough Sounds and  the South Island’s largest city Christchurch.
This journey is a scenic feast, with the wine growing region of Blenheim to the Kaikoura mountain ranges on one side of the train and the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline on the other at some points just meters away from the rail line..
There were hundreds of dolphins swimming and jumping  just off the shore along the Kaikora coast, and we saw Seals basking on the rocks completely unaffected by the train travelling so close to them.
A long the way you pass though the town of Kaikoura, where you take a short break to stretch your legs and for those folks who have to to have a quick puff .
We travelled  through some of New Zealand’s finest horticultural and farmland areas, and saw amazing wildlife such as dolphins, seals  from the comfort of our carriage. The TranzCoastal travels through 22 tunnels and crosses 175 bridges, one of them being New Zealand’s only road-rail bridge. The train includes an open air viewing carriage where all your senses are awakened with the clean, fresh, sea air. You have to hold on tight to your cameras and your hat ( if you had one) the steward asked you to be very careful while out on the  viewing carriage for if you fell off we could not stop and the next train passed would be tomorrow so you would spend a lonely night.

The Christchurch Arts Centre
We finally reached Christchurch where we spent 2 nights...doing the tourist bit and shopping of course I did not spend to much in Ballantyne's department store... For everyone over seas we do not have department stores in NZ or very very this was a great treat for us country folks to come to the big city and see the stores.
Please note the Ballantyne's bag.
We just visited one Patchwork store situated in the Arts Centre called "Forget me Knots" it was a great store and stocked some lovely things and  we were very restraint as we could buy most of what we saw there in Rotorua so we just bought a few things as a memory of our trip.
We managed a trip on the trams that run through the centre of Christchurch... you can jump on and off all day when you want to.. a great way to see the city centre area.
We had a couple of disappointments...
We were a little sad as the Ellersley Flower Show started the following weekend in Christchurch and we were leaving before it opened if only we had known about it when we booked and planned this trip we could have moved our trip back a week..... so may be next year.
Also the Chinese New Year celebrations were to begin on the evening we left......but we have photo's of it by daylight but I can imagine it would have been beautiful by night with every model and lattern  lit .......will post part 3 tomorrow sometime.

1 comment:

Ali Honey said...

I enjoyed that! The Raurimu Spiral is amazing isn't it. I have travelled it and studied it from outside as well. Way back when I first started teaching and was going to see about my job I had to get off the train at Raurimu at midninght...quite dark and scary. Luckily the headmaster was there to drive me back to the next settlement and their house. Really in the backblocks!