Im on the Overlander train from Auckland to Wellington. It is an idyllic trip that will take me all day. A flight would have coast about the same and taken only an hour and a half, but that would have been a sorry way to see this country.
Trains always put me in a contemplative mood. They travel in a set line from one point to another, not concerned about getting there quickly or getting lost. People do not travel by train to hurry up and get somewhere – they travel by train because they want to see the place they are traveling through, and they want to enjoy the experience of getting there.
I seem to be holding down the young end of this trip, and so far I have had some conversations with a few spry gentleman of age. The man who was sitting next to me is from Australia and is heading south to visit Christchurch for a bit. He likes to travel, and saved it up for most of his life until he hit retirement, but unfortunately the cancer waited until then as well. He is just now healthy enough to travel and it is inspiring to see the eagerness he exudes about taking the train down through this country.
My train car has an observation booth in the back, a windowed “U” booth that sits about 10 around a common coffee table. I started the trip here and got to know a little about the country and Wellington in particular from the people around me. An Indian couple who now work for a telecom in Wellington and are on a return from a weekend in Auckland gave me some pointers on places to live, how to handle the wind there, and fast internet options (+1 for telecom workers!)
I also chatted with two grandfatherly types who were on a week trip down to Wellington with their wives. One of them was a cabinet maker who did his apprenticeship in Wellington, got married there, then moved to the north of the island. He and his friend recommended some good local wine (although they said that California wine is far superior) and showed me my way around a map of the country.
The scenery on the trip so far has been relaxing – rolling green hills, free ranging cattle, some sheep, but not as many as I was expecting. This is not currently the area for them.
More as the journey continues (only 9 more hours on this train!)