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The Trans-Alpine Express

Alarms went off at 0600 and we were good to go at 0650. We walked around the corner to the free shuttle bus stop for the train, and waited for the 0720 bus until 0748. Turns out that the bus broke down and they had to send a mini-bus to get us and the four others there. The minibus had shaggy seats, like carpet. Checked into the train, put our bags in the luggage car and found our seats.

This is Kacey's first train ride. Very scenic: mountains, fog, rivers, sheep. One tunnel we went through had an unusual ventilation system: close the tunnel doors and suck out the exhaust with a fan. So there really would be no light at the end of the tunnel if they forgot to open back up. Our train ride ended in Greymouth at 1230. We dashed over to McDonalds and back to the train/bus station to load our bags on a bus to Franz Joseph Glacier at 1330. We stopped in Hokitika, one of the main sites for NZ jade (Poutoma), got some gifts, saw a teapot collection, then back on the bus.

We could see the glaciers well before we got into town, and the clear, blue streams that we crossed over on our way were part of much larger rocky gray river beds. Our room is on the downtown block of this three-block town. We went around the corner to buy lunch for tomorrow's trip and then gift shop and dinner. Venison with a nice Syrah. We were back in the room in time for the evening movie, "Mona Lisa Smile." I was surprised that I was able to rewatch it. Our clothes and food are laid out for tomorrow's tour start at a relaxed 0900.

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