The TranzAlpine - A no fuss family getaway

Travelling with family isn’t always easy. From navigating roads to searching for the next toilet stop to the constant “are we there yet” – a family holiday can sometimes be more hassle than it’s worth. So if you’re planning your next family adventure, here’s an idea that gets rid of the hassle altogether.

Family on the TranzAlpine feature

Stretching from the South Island’s East to West coast, the incredible KiwiRail TranzAlpine train is one of the best ways to see the South Island. And we’ve got a stack of reasons to prove it. So read on for those, plus a bunch of tips when travelling with kids – and some family-friendly things to do along the way. Let the holiday of your dreams begin. 

Why the TranzAlpine?

Boarding the TranzAlpine train

Quality time together

Forget cramming your luggage into the car, or sitting like sardines on a plane. The TranzAlpine has more than enough space for your family, your luggage and takes care of the navigation part so that you can focus on quality bonding time. And being a family, you’ll most likely want to request a table (these are limited). It’s the perfect way to catch up over games, enjoy snacks – and see panoramic views of the South Island.  

TranzAlpine train oboard entertainment

Onboard entertainment   

Of course, even the tightest of families can only handle so many hours of ‘I spy’. So if you’re looking for other things to do with the family, the TranzAlpine covers comfort, entertainment and impeccable service. If you’re feeling peckish, wander through the carriage to the train’s licensed café, which serves everything from hot and cold drinks, to tasty meals, to locally brewed beverages. And if you’ve got older kids, ‘stories of our land’ is a fascinating commentary that’s both educational and entertaining. They’ll hear stories of New Zealand’s history, culture and land, all from the comfort of spacious seats.

 Convenience and ease is another drawcard. Onboard, you’ll find a baby changing area, plenty of bathrooms, air conditioning in summer, heating for the colder months and power sockets to help keep your devices fully charged.  

Scenery from the TranzAlpine train

Your window to New Zealand

 “Get your camera ready”. Big into views? Great news – the TranzAlpine is one of the best ways to see and travel New Zealand. Covering 223 kilometres of breathtaking landscapes, you and the kids will struggle to put the camera down. Think The Southern Alps, lush native bush, rugged coastlines and more. Better still, if you want to get closer to the action, there’s an open-air viewing carriage. You’ll be snap happy for hours.

Tips when travelling with kids

Playing games on the TranzAlpine train

Keep them entertained

Although there’s plenty to do, see and enjoy, Wifi isn’t available on board. So if you and the kids want to watch a flick, just remember to download it the night before. Or if you want to spend time away from the screen, why not some pack games of your own? If you’re lucky enough to have a table, there’ll be plenty of space to spread out.

Plus, if you’re after more things to do with the family, kids’ activities can be bought from the café. There’s everything from colouring books, to origami, to card games.

Pack snacks

While there is a great licensed café on board, kids can be fussy eaters. So it pays to pack a bag with your own bits and pieces. Just keep it handy, above your seat.

Travelling with kids on TranzAlpine train

Wrap up warm

While you’ll stay warm inside the carriage, the TranzAlpine does move through the stunning, but chilly Southern Alps. So if you’re set on checking out the open air viewing carriage – and are travelling in colder months, remember to pack extra layers.

Keep an eye out

The TranzAlpine is a super easy, safe way to travel with kids. But there is a chance of the train swinging and lurching. So if you’ve got young ones with you, it’s important to pay close attention to their whereabouts. You wouldn’t want a fall to ruin the fun.

Family fun off the tracks

The TranzAlpine stretches from the South Island’s West to East Coast. And while there’s plenty to do on board, the train also stops off at some of the best family holiday destinations in New Zealand, so there’s fun to be had on and off the tracks.

Kids at Christchurch Antarctic Center

The Christchurch Antarctic Centre

If you’ve got some time to spend in Christchurch, the Christchurch Antarctic Centre is a fun and safe way for the whole family to experience the sights and sounds of Antarctica. Sign the kids up for the 4D special effects ice voyage while you explore the stories of the Antarctic Gallery. Or if you want to get up close with some furry friends, head to the Husky Zone for a cuddle, or visit the Penguin Encounter. Once you’re snowed out, relax in the café for a sweet treat and warm drink.

The Christchurch Gondola

For panoramic views of Christchurch and beyond, jump on the Christchurch Gondola. Soaring well above the city, it’s an experience you and the kids won’t forget anytime soon. Once you reach the top, there’s the option of grabbing a bite from the popular Red Rock Café, taking a history lesson with the Time Tunnel Experience, or simply soak up the sites before returning to the bottom. Grab a family pass for just $69.

Kids at Arthur Pass station

Arthur’s Pass

If you’re looking for family fun outdoors, look no further than Arthur’s Pass National Park. It’s one of the most spectacular stops along the TranzAlpine – and a great way to get the kids away from the screen and into the great outdoors. The Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall is an easy to moderate walk, that’s just an hour return.

Lake Brunner - TranzAlpine train

Moana and Lake Brunner

Just before Greymouth lies the town of Moana, that’s famous for Lake Brunner. And whether you’ve got two hours to spare, or have time to stop off for the night, there’s plenty to enjoy. For a taste of local seafood, head to King Fisher Restaurant and Bar. Or if you’re after a bit of adventure, there’s jet boating, cycling tracks and even fishing safaris. Stay overnight at either a lodge, campsite or rainforest retreat.

TranzAlpine pulling into Greymouth station

Greymouth

The TranzAlpine stops off in Greymouth for only one hour before returning to Christchurch. So if you and the kids want to see the sights, we’d recommend hanging around longer. Head to Shantytown for an action-packed steam train ride, holographic show or rainforest walk. Or if you want some downtime, head to the Treetop Café and enjoy a warm beverage while you soak up the sights.                 

Of course, if you and your family are more of the adventure type, Greymouth also offers a couple of action-packed activities to get excited about. ‘On Yer Bike!’ is an off-road adventure company that goes by the mantra “The Wetter the Better”. Jumping on one of their New Zealand tours will take you through rainforests, muddy terrain and winding trails. On the flip side, a trip out to the breathtaking Pancake Rocks is said to be one of the best things to do in New Zealand. So it could be a great way to round out your day in Greymouth. Head to the i-SITE at the station for more info.  

Pancake Rocks West Coast

Travelling with kids? The TranzAlpine is a no-brainer

Now that we’ve given you a stack of reasons to get the family on board, the only thing left to do is book. Whether you’re starting your adventure from the South Island’s West or East Coast, it’s easy to make a TranzAlpine train booking. And locking it in well before your trip means you’ll save on your journey fare (especially if you’re travelling in the kids’ school holidays). It’s as simple as checking out the fares and route map before booking your journey ahead. So what are you waiting for? The New Zealand holiday you’ve been looking for is right here.