So I left Christchurch after a couple of days and after a rush to the train station, I managed to catch the transalpine train across the country to the town of Greymouth. The transalpine railway has been rated one of the best train journeys in the world and I can certainly see why. After leaving Christchurch, we cruised through the flat plains surrounding the town and entered the farming district and at every glimpse out of the window you would spot hundreds of fluffy white sheep! The mountains soon grew in the background and we quickly approached the white snow capped mountains that we would have to cross to get to the west coast. The mountains soon began to surround us and the scenery was amazing. There had recently been a large dump of snow in the area and so we were lucky with some of the views we had. The mountains were spectacular, and we crossed rivers and passed lakes, all which reflected the sunshine and the perfect blue sky above. I took a couple of trips out to the viewing carriage but after a few minutes had to dash back into the warm as it was freezing outside and my hands were going numb without gloves! We had a quick stop in the town of Arthurs pass where we were invited to stretch out legs. I looked at the platform that was covered in snow which to me looked about a few inches deep. So I jumped out ready to play in the snow but soon found it was a lot deeper than I first imagined and I sunk into the snow which came above my knees! It was great! Have never seen such deep snow! And it was real snow as well, not like the stuff we get back in England! The mountains soon fell away in the distance and we came back into the green hills of the countryside, once again surrounded by sheep and finally pulled into Greymouth for lunchtime.
The town of Greymouth wasn't very appealing and didn't really exude the magical atmosphere of the west coast that I was expecting! The hostel was nice though and was about the first hostel I've stayed in that didn't have bunk beds which was great! They even gave us mints on our pillows as though we were staying in a real hotel! I took a wander of the drab town, the highlight being a trip to the local jade stone gallery. Jade stone is what Maori's used to use for tools and weapons and is plentiful on the west coast. nowadays they create jewellery out of it, far too expensive for me though, so sorry mum, you'll have to make do with some tourist tack I'm affraid!
In the evening I met up with the people who had arrived on the Magic bus, the bus service I was due to be taking the next day, and will be travelling with around NZ. It was nice to be chatting with some people again as the past few days had been pretty quiet for me. We headed off for an evening tour of the local Monteiths brewery, a famous NZ beer. The brewery however was not operating and was frankly a waste of time and money. The free samples of beer at the end were good though and we got to pour our own pints! The free BBQ afterwards though was dreadful. I guess the idea is that they get you drunk enough in the brewery that you don't notice the gristle and grey meat of the sausages in bread that we got!
Next stop, the Franz Josef glacier and the wonders of the picturesque west coast of NZ!