Make tracks

THE 224km, four-and-a-half hour journey from Christchurch aboard the TranzAlpine train is a great way to get to the northern end of the West Coast.

The train leaves Christchurch at 8.15am daily and makes a few stops along the way - including, at the highest point, Arthur's Pass, at 737m above sea level.

From comfortable heated carriages, you can gaze out on the farmland of the Canterbury Plains before entering the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River.

The train then climbs into the Southern Alps, passing through 16 tunnels and across five viaducts, the highest at 73m.

The final part of the journey is a descent through lush beech forest to the old gold mining town of Greymouth.

We brave the chilly winds on the open observation car to work our cameras overtime as picture-postcard scenery slips by.

In May, the Southern Alps are already capped with snow, dazzling under a sun which does little to ease the cold.

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Byron speed queen

Byron speed queen

Joanne feels need for speed

WAVE RAVE: Cyclone swell warning

WAVE RAVE: Cyclone swell warning

Huge swells in the Bay