Easter Weekend was spent by me and Mrs Beanb41 overseas in the South Island principally in Christchurch. The idea of going to CHCH was brought about by a desire to travel on the Trans Coastal train ride. We had travelled from Picton to CHCH and reverse many times by car but never on the train. It also proved to be an ideal opportunity to catch up with some fellow DE's Coaster and ChilliP. It was hoped that one or two others may have been able to join us but not so. We stayed in the Holiday Inn on Avon and more about that later.
Travel across the ditch was on the Kaitaki Interislander Ferry. My son had recommended that we upgrade our trip use the Kaitaki Plus lounge at a cost of $40 per person. The lounge caters for around fifty people and for ones money you get complimentary food and drink for the duration of the voyage and peace and quiet. The ferry crossing was full it being the first day of the school hoildays, bodies were strewn everywhere and youngsters running amok as would be expected on such a trip. Was the upgrade worthwhile - on a full sailing during school holidays you betcha. If the sailing was half full and then it would be a marginal call. The lounge by the way is R18.
There was around an hours gap between arrival in Picton and catching the train south so we spent the time sitting on the foreshoe in the sun. Very very pleasant.
The train trip south: 7 rows of seats 8 seats per row, 4 on each side. Each section of 4 seats is divided by a small table. The seats are very comfortable and provide a good deal of room. One gets a little more room than an economy seat in an aircraft, probably equivalent to the legroom in the overwing exits. Large tinted windows are down each side of the train and because of the views offered there is really no good or bad side to travel. The trip took approx 5 hours and at no stage did we feel uncomfortable or agitated due to the train trip. There was a buffet car which as the day wore on had less and less choices of food and drink as would be expected. Most of the food sold out so one must come to the conclusion that it tasted okay as we had many visits past us from College girls in a neighbouring carriage making repeated visits to the buffet car.
The original purpose of the trip was to experience the train ride and now having done it would we do it again. Probably not. It is just a train trip with no great stand out features unlike the Tranzalpine and a flight from Wellington to CHristchurch is cheaper and quicker.
We had prebooked a rental car from Apex Rentals and it was waiting for us as planned at the CHCH train station. The car was a low cost Sunny, well groomed and did everything we asked of it. It was a very economical runaround for three days. When we headed home we dropped the car off at the Apex Rentals off airport site and used their shuttle to take us to catch our plane. This is the first time we had used Apex - we normally use the majors for our short trips, but we were very impressed with the service offered.
Stay in CHCH to come