I recently made the trip to Greymouth and back for work when the road was closed due to snow and really enjoyed myself. The scenery really was exquisite! The fresh snow made everything vivid and beautiful - even the boring farmland!
The train itself was pleasant. The carriages have been fitted nicely and were far from full. The staff were pleasant and not continuously hovering! The food was disappointing - pricey as I have begun to expect from tourist institutions, limited in range and in volume and everything was heated in the microwave! I do understand that there are limitations on what can be done on a train but I felt that the effort put into making refreshments available on a 4 hour expensive journey was very poor. It was especially criminal that they microwaved what would have otherwise been a very decent Steak and Cheese pie!
The trip itself was a little amusing in that we ran almost an hour over time. This was predominantly due to several minor issues - a section of track that was damaged necessitating several kilometres travelling at walking pace and the points were frozen (after only a mild frost!) and could not be defrosted hence we had to backtrack several kms to take a different track!
My other issue was that of the price - as a tourist oriented venture it seems that Tranzrail think they can charge the earth! Apparently it is even more expensive if you book from overseas!
Overall, I do recommend this trip - especially over winter when it has been snowing as it really is stunning and the train itself is very well set-up. Just make sure you take your own snacks!
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