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Dunedin Railways’ Call of the Wild: A Taieri Gorge Adventure

Discovering the untamed beauty of Taieri Gorge

Capturing the earthy hues of rugged cliffs and bursts of yellow wildflowers cascading down the rocky slopes kept me enthralled for the entire Taieri Gorge journey on New Zealand’s South Island.

In September 2019, standing on the platform of a passenger carriage, every twist, and turn of the tracks unveiled a panorama of untamed wilderness, inviting me to capture its natural beauty.

As the train wheels created a rhythmic beat, the Taieri River meandered through the gorge, setting the stage for a grand adventure.

Read further to discover the journey, noting that the Taieri Gorge Railway company has since undergone a transformation and is now recognised under the new identity of Dunedin Railways.

Dunedin Railways - scene

Embracing the beauty of New Zealand’s Taieri Gorge train tour, where vibrant yellow wildflowers are in full bloom.

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Spectacular journey with Dunedin Railways

Our journey began at the Dunedin Railway Station, a fine example of Renaissance revival architecture that stood as one of the city’s most fascinating landmarks.

With anticipation in the air, we stepped onto the train, which pulled away from the station and into the South Island countryside. As the train traversed areas inaccessible by road, we learned about the railway’s construction and other interesting facts from the onboard commentary.

As the lengthiest tourist railway line in New Zealand, this track follows the path of the former Otago Central Railway, spanning from the four-kilometre marker on the Taieri Branch to Middlemarch, a journey of about 60 kilometres.

The route along the Taieri River’s banks ventured through 10 tunnels and over a dozen viaducts, each unveiling a new chapter in the story of this vast landscape.

The Wingatui railway station, with its restored original building and signal box from 1914, marked a moment to appreciate the region’s history.

Crossing the Wingatui Viaduct, a 197-meter marvel that has stood as the largest steel structure in New Zealand since its construction in 1887, was a highlight of our journey after going through the Salisbury Tunnel, the longest on the line. With its riveted truss structure resting on seven concrete and masonry piers, the viaduct was a testament to engineering prowess.

Emerging from Mullocky Gully, the route hugged the Taieri Gorge, passing through former stations with quaint names like Parera, Mount Allen, Little Mount Allen, and Christmas Creek. The Hindon station, operating as a crossing point, offered a glimpse into the heritage of rail travel.

Continuing our expedition, the Deep Stream viaduct offered photo opportunities, as the landscape ascended higher and moved away from the gorge. As we traversed Pukerangi and Middlemarch, the railway occasionally embraced the Taieri River, crossing Sutton Creek over a combined road-rail bridge.

Heading back to Dunedin, every bend in the track revealed a fresh scene, keeping the ride interesting right until we rolled into the Dunedin Railway Station.

Dunedin Railways - Hindon Station

Hindon Station: A Crossing Point that’s a piece of living history on the Taieri Gorge railway journey.

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Ride the Dunedin Rails through the South Island

The Taieri Gorge Railway expedition, organised by Dunedin Railways, immersed travellers in the breathtaking beauty of New Zealand. The rhythmic clatter of the train wheels, the vibrant hues of the landscape, and the stories woven into each viaduct and tunnel linger vividly in my memory.

For anyone eager to explore the stunning landscapes of Dunedin and the Otago region, the Taieri Gorge railway calls. Head to Dunedin Railways’ website at https://www.dunedinrailways.co.nz/ for the most up-to-date information.

More photos from the Taieri Gorge railway adventure

Dunedin Railways - montage

Photos by Jocelyn Watts, 2019.

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If you enjoyed this blog, you might also like my fiction story Murder on a Runaway Train.

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