Even before we boarded the Taieri Gorge train, we knew we were in for an extraordinary day. Dunedin Railways is well known for hosting some of the most impressive and scenic train trips in New Zealand. The 45 km Taieri Gorge lived up to our expectations.
The South Island of New Zealand is spectacular, one of the most beautiful places I have been. Dunedin, where we boarded the train, is in the southeastern corner of the country, at the -45.8 parallel, closer to Antarctica than the equator. We’re about as far away from our home in Auckland as we can get, whilst still being in the country.
Our journey began as the train pulled out of the station. It travelled through southern Dunedin until it reached the Wingatui junction. Here, we turned onto purpose-built tracks for this Taieri Gorge train that were laid between 1878 and 1891.
Throughout our passage, the commentator added little-known anecdotes like the story of Wingatui, which sounds like a Maori name, but, in fact, is not. The story goes like this:
An early settler shot and wounded a tui bird on his arrival at a nearby town in 1848. He nursed the bird back to health and announced, “the first place we get, we will call it Wing-a-tui”.
Our train proceeded to roll past several small towns, through a dozen tunnels, over countless bridges and viaducts, and all the time we enjoyed the spectacular and vast scenery. Here are some of my favourites images from the Taieri Gorge train:
Practical Information on the Taieri Gorge train:
- The Taieri Gorge train is a 4-hour round-trip adventure from the Dunedin Railways station to Pukerangi covering a one-way distance of 58km.
- It runs twice daily in the summer and once daily in the winter. Check the official schedule here.
- On most Friday and Sunday mornings, the train continues to Middlemarch before returning, a 6-hour round-trip journey.
- Sit on the left side of the train on the way up and the right side on the way back.
- Several of the cars have outdoor platforms. These are great for photography (used for photos on this page). However, you get a more expansive view from inside the train car.
- As the train travels from Dunedin to Pukerangi, there is also an outdoor platform at the back of the train. This is another great outdoor place to stand.
- There are modern cars, with plush seats and climate control. On the same train are original cars with wooden seats and windows that open. Each has their charm. If you have a preference, you can make a request when you make your booking, but either way, you can move about the train throughout your trip.
- Food and drink are available onboard in the cafe car. It is also okay to bring your own snacks.
- For more information, see their official website here.
More about Dunedin Railways and the Dunedin Railway Station
- Plan to arrive a bit early to the station, as you will want time for photos. The Dunedin train station is considered to be the most photographed building in New Zealand.
- Located inside the Dunedin Railways station is New Zealand’s only Sports Hall of Fame.
- The station opened in 1906. In the early part of last century, it was the largest and busiest train station in New Zealand.
- A different Dunedin train runs to Oamaru, with an optional 2-hour stop to see the Moeraki Boulders.
- If you are looking to combine the Dunedin Railway with a city tour, or arriving via cruise ship, be sure to check out the Dunedin tours offered by Viator, a trip advisor company.
Do you travel by train?
Disclaimer: We were guests of the Dunedin Railways. However, the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.