When we organised our recent trip to Christchurch, our plan was to drive to Wellington via Napier and Martinborough, ferry to Picton, then drive to Blackball, visit Greymouth, and then head to Christchurch via Arthur’s Pass to deliver the Dethleffs Distinction Trend motorhome to UCC.

Excited to be getting on the Coastal Pacific train

For the return journey we had the option of either picking up a relocation vehicle to drive north, jumping on a plane directly for home, or booking ourselves on the Coastal Pacific for the rail journey to Picton and then either flying or taking the Northern Explorer from Wellington to Auckland. A couple of times before, we had tried to fit in the Coastal Pacific train trip after the service resumed on December 1, 2018 – following the Kaikōura earthquake on November 14, 2016 that shut the service down – but to no avail, so that was an interesting option.

Meal with a view

Then the thought occurred … why not fly from Picton with Sounds Air? I had done this many years ago (in quite turbulent conditions as it happened). So our thinking was … let’s get off the train, hop on the 3.10pm flight from Sounds Air to Wellington and connect with a flight to Auckland – home by 7pm if we were smart about it. A few phone calls to check out the flights and it was all organised. Sounds Air made it even easier as they pick up passengers from their Picton office. I was so surprised at the costs: we flew at short notice so $120 each, but if you book ahead that goes down to $59 per person (dependent upon the day of the flight). That’s similar to or cheaper than a ferry ticket on either carrier, so price-wise this is absolutely an option. Costs for the train range from $89 to $159 depending on time of year and booking.


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