When the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake ripped across the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island in November 2016, it destroyed homes and roads and sent miles of the Main North Line’s railroad tracks into the sea, ending one third of KiwiRail’s scenic train rides in the region.
Although the Main North Line was reconnected in August 2017 for freight trains to help remove rubble from the subsequent landslides, the scenic Coastal Pacific Train is finally reopening on December 1, 2018, to make the six-hour journey up the scenic Pacific Coast of the South Island from Christchurch to Picton once again.
Along the 61-mile route, you’ll take in the scenery of the Kaikoura mountain range, the rocky beaches near Oaro, as well as pass through 22 tunnels and over 175 bridges. Each ticket includes a seat in a train car with panoramic windows and skylights built to maximize the views, but if you’d like, you can also take in the scenery from the open-air viewing car to take pictures sans window glare.
The seasonal train will make daily trips from Christchurch each morning and will return from Picton every afternoon from December 1, 2018, through late April 2019. (The train will not run on Christmas Day.) If you’d like to slow down and spend the night along the way, the Coastal Pacific also makes stops in the Blenheim wine region and the seaside town of Kaikoura.Tickets start at $159 (US$104) for adults, $111 (US$73) for children; they can be booked via greatjourneysofnz.co.nz
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