Taieri Gorge is in Dunedin. My family went there on our first ever New Zealand campervan holiday, because my dad is an insufferable train nerd and, coming from England, we all kind of missed trains. Not to mention those beautiful, old railway stations of which there are hardly any in New Zealand. Dunedin has one. From it, you can catch the Taieri Gorge tourist train, which takes you on an enchanting journey through dramatic scenery. Being twelve years old at the time, I gazed out of the window and imagined I was being whisked away to Hogwarts, which, I suppose, tells you how British the scenery seemed. It was highly nostalgic.
As the train chugged along between lush hills and looming rocks, over meandering water and vintage bridges, I went to stand outside, at the back of our carriage. It got a bit chilly with the air rushing by, but it was thrilling, particularly the tunnels.
The journey was quite long, so you get your money’s worth, but I imagine a child any younger than I was would get bored towards the end.
Luckily, the train stops to let you get out and take photographs, and you can buy refreshments and souvenirs en route. Unluckily, one of the souvenirs – the one that my little sister had to get – is a train whistle, a wooden woodwind instrument that only plays one note in imitation of the ‘choo-choo’ sound that trains make. Imagine that in the hands of a nine-year-old, especially one that used to dress up as Thomas the Tank Engine.
Thusly serenaded, we returned to our campervan, eagerly anticipating the next stage of our holiday. Considering this is ten years later, I can safely state that the Taieri Gorge Railway makes for a memorable experience.
Article by Abigail Simpson, author of POMS AWAY! A British Immigrant’s View of New Zealand