As with most of our excursions, we were late departing (in this case due to the sheer logistics of the tour’s 300 passengers disembarking and transferring to the privately chartered train - this took an hour). We were directed to a ... Read More
As with most of our excursions, we were late departing (in this case due to the sheer logistics of the tour’s 300 passengers disembarking and transferring to the privately chartered train - this took an hour). We were directed to a particular wagon (so did not get a choice of a period or modern carriage). We had to climb 4 steep ladder steps to board our modern carriage with panoramic windows, with four seats grouped round a table. Clean toilet (one per carriage).
The first of only two disembarkation stops was the picturesque, historic Dunedin Railway Station, with its elaborate Victorian façade, complete with towers. The galleried ticket hall has stained glass windows, a colourful tiled frieze and a splendid mosaic floor comprising almost 750,000 Royal Doulton porcelain tiles. The station is surrounded by lovely gardens, with other charming historical buildings nearby.
The train then follows the route of pioneers & prospectors. It took quite a while to reach the more picturesque river gorge area. En-route two lovely volunteers served our picnic lunch. The tour included unlimited hot, soft and alcoholic drinks (beer and wine) throughout. We saw some pretty, but not spectacular scenery, and struggled to get a good view of the viaducts. Our photos were pretty rubbish (the observation car was too bouncy) - better just to sit back and enjoy. Also, we couldn’t really hear the onboard commentary. There was nothing at the second and final photo-stop where the train headed back along exactly the same route. The carriage was full, so I had to travel backwards and ended up feeling quite sick. Whilst we enjoyed a relaxing picturesque trip, with hindsight we probably would have picked a different tour, especially as were booked on the more scenic Southern Alps train the following day. Read Less