For some time now, people have been recommending the Taieri Gorge railway to me, so when I found out I was heading down to Dunedin for the week on business, I decided to go down early and try it out.
We were booked in to depart on Sunday afternoon at 12.30pm. I felt like a little kid in the morning when I woke up as found myself really excited about going on the trip and being on a train again – I never knew I missed all those years living in London and travelling around on the tube and on trains to get to work every day!
We arrived at the station about 20 minutes before departure and were greeted by Murray in the ticket office. He heartily welcomed us, issued our tickets, and wished us a great trip as we headed out onto the platform to find our carriage and seats. A quick stop on the platform to take a few photos and we hopped aboard carriage S eagerly waiting for the train to leave. At 12.30 on the dot, our train conductor gave us a rundown of the safety procedures and then we were on our way.
It takes approx 4 ½ hours return from the Dunedin Railway Station to Pukerangi. On the journey up, you get an ongoing commentary with really interesting facts and little tit bits of information about the history of the railway. On the way down you have time to enjoy a glass of wine or a coffee from the buffet car, take photos or just watch the scenery go by.
The train winds its way through some spectacular and very beautiful landscapes. There are a few stops on the way up so you can get off and take photos as well as about 20 minutes up at Pukerangi station – the half way point of the trip – to have a look around. You can also go out to the back of the train and stand on the platform at the back to take photos as the scenery rushes by.
The gorge is magnificent, and it’s hard to believe that the railway was built in such a rugged landscape over 100 years ago. If anyone was injured whilst building the gorge it would take days to get them to the nearest doctor in Mosgiel. The train goes over several viaducts along the way and the Wingatui Viaduct is actually the largest steel structure in the southern hemisphere (the Eiffel Tower being the biggest in the northern hemisphere).
The carriages are warm and comfortable and you are free to get up and go outside to take photos or can simply sit and enjoy the scenery from the window of your seats. The history of the railway is fascinating and so it’s well worth paying attention to the commentary.
The train runs every day (except Christmas day) and will go rain or shine – a rarity this day in age with a lot of other tourist activities. It was a grey and overcast day when we went, but the scenery was still amazing and I got some fantastic photographs all the same. I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone who has a spare afternoon in Dunedin. For more information go to www.tairei.co.nz