Cross Country by Planes, Trains and Automobiles

With less than a fortnight to spend on the other side of the world, the Independent’s Kate Simon used planes, trains, automobiles … and a bike to make every second count on a trip through New Zealand.

“Transport is a theme of my trip to New Zealand; how I get about has been as important as where I’ll stay and what I’ll do along the way,” Simon writes. “My transport choices not only need to join the necessary dots but fill in some of the colour of this country, too.

“The TranzAlpine Express is on the bucket list of every rail enthusiast. This iron road has connected East to West since the early 20th century.

“At the lonesome town of Arthur’s Pass, the highest point, the train takes a breather before we plunge into the darkness of the Otira Tunnel for several kilometres, emerging in the old coalfields of Brunner and Dobson and descending to the shores of the Tasman Sea.

“The Northern Explorer takes me on another epic train journey, from seashore to mountainside, peeping in the gardens of suburban clapboard homes and crossing wide pastures. We helter-skelter down the steep slope from the volcanic plateau on the Raurimu Spiral and scale formerly impenetrable bush on the high steel girders of the Makatote Viaduct.

“Headphones on, I listen to the story of this train line. But it is the tales of the tribal lands we’re crossing that captivate me. I find it hard not to mimic quietly the narrator’s rhythmic phonetic delivery of the lovely multi-syllabic Maori words – Paraparaumu, Rangitikei, Makohine, Mataroa, Turangarere.”

Original article by Kate Simon, The Independent, October 21, 2014.

Photo by Alamy.

Tags: Arthur's Pass  Independent (The)  Makatote Viaduct  Makohine  Mataroa  Northern Explorer  Otira Tunnel  Paraparaumu  Rangitikei  Raurimu Spiral  TranzAlpine Express  Turangarere  

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