All aboard for last run of the season
The Coastal Pacific train took its last run of the season yesterday.
Operator KiwiRail made the decision last year to close the Picton-Christchurch-Picton service during the winter months due to poor economic performance.
The train service posted a $3 million loss in 2012 and a $1.9m loss in 2013, a KiwiRail spokeswoman said.
Even with a seasonal timetable it was expected to make a loss well in excess of $1m this year.
Some passengers travelling from Picton to Christchurch yesterday had no idea it was to be the train's final journey of the season.
Philip Smith, from Wellington, was connecting with the TransAlpine to Arthur's Pass and then planned to cycle back to Picton over a week.
"I was pretty lucky I suppose to get the last one or I might of had to cycle there and back," he said.
Australian travellers Nerida and Garry Barnsley were also unaware the service would be closed for winter, but were thrilled to be getting on board.
The couple had taken the trip two years ago and had returned specially to do it again.
"It's just a magical trip.
"I especially love the outdoor carriage and how you can smell the land - the grapes, the farming and the sea," Nerida said.
The Coastal Pacific takes in sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the stunning kaikoura coastline and also allows visitors to stop in Kaikoura. It will resume service on September 26.