The conversation behind me made my Kiwi heart swell with pride, especially when I detected the broad Aussie accents of the middle-aged couple.

“I never expected the trip to be quite so spectacular,” the woman said.

“Bloody bonzer,” was the reply from her husband.

We were disembarking from the TranzAlpine train in Greymouth after a five-hour journey from Christchurch.

The TranzAlpine at Christchurch Railway Station. Photo supplied

It was a sparkling clear spring day with a fresh coating of snow on the Alps so the Aussie couple had just witnessed perfection. There were many faces aglow, mainly foreign, after the trip.

That morning, on the dot of 8.15am, the train glided smoothly out of the station. The twin diesel locomotives pulling the 10 or so carriages quickly gathered speed as we whizzed through suburban Christchurch at the start of the journey from the Pacific Ocean on the east coast of the South Island to the Tasman Sea on the West Coast.

The open-air viewing carriage on the TranzAlpine

Most of the passengers were content to sit in their comfortable seats beside the huge panoramic windows watching the ever-changing landscape flicker by, but I joined a handful of puffer-jacket-clad folk who braved the blustery, dusty and decidedly chilly conditions in the open-air observation car at the rear of the train.

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