January 11, 2024 Rangiora to Blenheim (Day 106)

A very early morning to catch our 7:30am train in Rangiora. The Coastal Pacific train operates north and south along the Pacific coast between Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island, and Picton, at the top of the South Island where the ferry docks. We opted to catch the train in Rangiora, closer to us, and disembark in Blenheim since we’ve been to Picton, and will be there again to catch the ferry in March!

Traveling light, just an overnight backpack and a bag of snacks!

On time, with great big picture windows!

We settled in our seats and began the journey through the region of Canterbury, passing orchards, paddocks of sheep, dry brown hills, green pine plantations and vineyards. Sometimes a road alongside, sometimes a river, woefully lacking in water!About one third of the way into the 4 hour trip we emerged from the hills to the flat on the lip of the seashore.As we traveled north along the coast it became more rocky as we approached the Kaikoura peninsula. This area is known for sightings of dolphins, fur seals (more like sea lions) and whales.

We spotted a pod of dolphins flipping out of the water, and fur seals in the water and sunning on the rocks!

At Kaikoura we had a short stop and a chance to disembark for a few minutes to see the beach. They have a whale watch center that we didn’t have enough time to check out, but HERE is a lot of information about whale watching in Kaikoura!

Kaikoura is a small town with a big beach!!

We continued up the coastline, but looking inland was just as picturesque, with the Kaikoura Seaward range and the Kaikoura Inland range in the background!We crossed the invisible border into the Marlborough region, well known for it’s vineyards, as is the Canterbury region as well. We arrived at Blenheim, the largest town in the Marlborough region and checked into the Waterfront Motel overlooking the park along the Taylor river, a short walk from the train station.We went for a short walk into the main business district and found a place for pizza dinner and Guinness beer dessert! It was a toasty 84 degrees out and very tropical looking with the palm trees!

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