Wednesday 11 March – Dunedin (NZ)
Our first port of call after leaving Sydney and the ship docks at Port Chalmers, about 13k from Dunedin.
Our visit to NZ in February 2013 (see http://www.thereadrovers.wordpress.com) didn’t include Dunedin so we had hoped that we could spend some time here to explore and to have a ride on the Taieri Gorge Railway.
The P & O tour had arranged a Taieri Gorge Railway trip that started dockside at Port Chalmers which is a part of the line rarely used but the downside was that the train only went as far as Pukerang.
Hauled by 3 large diesel engines pulling 14 coaches of various vintage and a full load of P & O passengers, the train started slowly but picks up speed after passing through Dunedin station before stopping at Wingatui to leave the main line, past a race horse track and on up into the hills.
The left hand side of the train going up seems to be the best until we get to Hindon when the best views are on the right when the gorge starts and fabulous they are to look at.
Up to the plains at Pukerangi where we stop and disembark for a wander. There is virtually nothing here to suggest the reasoning behind there being a station here.
The engines switch to other end of the train for our journey home whilst we look at the few stalls set up from the backs of cars selling various touristy items.
Our carriage was so noisy with various people not really wanting to see the scenery but just chat to their fellow passengers so commentary provided by train Company not always heard over the absolute racket of chatter.
We were allocated seats in a modern carriage, so windows didn’t open for photos although a gated exit carriage was two carriages back and was found in time for a view of the bridge at Wingatui Viaduct.
The train volunteers did an excellent job and food, drink supply excellent.
By the time we got back to Dunedin, the planned 60 minute stop turned out to be only about 10 minutes just to photograph the wonderful station, not to explore so we will have to come back!
Back on board we set sail past the stacks of timber at the quayside, but something is different.
We have a health scare on board, some passengers have sickness and diareah which is a bit worrying so we are in special measures with passengers not allowed to touch any food, self service restaurant is now a no touch area with stewards helping passengers to food rather than it being a self service restaurant with our hands regularly washed with hand soap.
Next stop, tomorrow, Akaroa.