It's a spectacular trip, in terms of scenery, and well worth the tiredness. I took a lot of pictures, including many I didn't intend to take (the little camera having a mind of its own, apparently...sometimes it takes two or three pictures, if I leave my finger on the button, and sometimes when I pick it up, I hit the button by accident--it's very easy to depress it just too much.)
The most famous part of the trip, from the point of view of railway buffs, is the great ascending/descending spiral. Here's a picture of our train on the spiral...
We were going up, and are near the top here.
Beyond National Park station are a series of incredible viaducts crossing very deep narrow canyons. Due to reflections on the glass, and the angle of sun, most of my pictures of those did not come out well at all. However, we ran alongside several canyons (or the same canyon several times--I didn't have a good map to tell which) and here's a picture of the kind of thing we saw--stunning scenery.
On the high volcanic plateau near National Park station, heather was blooming. I'm sure that heather, as a non-native, is replacing some native plant of great interest, but heather blooming, miles of it, is worth seeing anyway...gorgeously magenta-purple.
Got into Wellington and the first thing I heard was that Arthur C. Clarke had died....not a happy moment. He broke open the ceiling for many of us and showed us a vast and starry universe.