Day 13: West Coast & TranzAlpine

I awoke to my amazing view in Nelson just in time for the sunrise. I was planning for an early start today as I had one of my longest drives ahead (almost 5 hours) and I had to catch a train at 2! My plan was to follow highway 6 out of Nelson, follow along the river (Buller river, I think), and make my way to the Tasman Sea at the West coast of the South Island. This drive was one of my best in New Zealand! The fog was just lifting as I set out so it felt as it I was driving under the clouds. The road wound through mountain valleys and farmlands eventually opening up to some of the most amazing coastal views I've seen. If I weren't driving, I'd have many more photos!

My one and only planned stop along the way (remember I had to catch a train at 2!) was in Punakaiki to see the pancake rocks, a beautiful natural phenomenon in the limestone rocks of the coastline in this area. I think I chose well for my one stop...stunning!

After the Pancake Rocks, I continued my drive (in rain) to nearby Greymouth where I would be returning my car and boarding the TranzAlpine train that would take me across the entire island from West to East.  The train was the perfect way to see the alps and higher peaks of New Zealand without driving (the train took us to over 3,000 feet). Despite being rainy and dreary, the views from the train were amazing. There was even an open air viewing car. It was cold, but worth bearing it for a bit for the experience and the views.

The train also stops briefly in Arthur's Pass National Park and allows the passengers off for a short walk around. This is one of the highest train stops in New Zealand.

It was getting quite dark by the time we arrived in Christchurch, the last city of my incredible adventure. After today, I can say I've taken on New Zealand by planes, trains, and automobiles (and boat!).


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