Tag Archives: south island

Things to See in New Zealand: Taieri Gorge Limited (Dunedin Railways) Travel Attractions 16 JUN 2015

A visit to Dunedin is not complete without a trip on the Dunedin Railways (formerly Taieri Gorge Railway) Taieri Gorge Limited route – one of the world’s great train trips.

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The Dunedin Railways (formerly the Taieri Gorge Railway and the Otago Excursion Train Trust) is an operator of a railway line and tourist trains based at Dunedin Railway Station in the South Island of New Zealand. The railway is a council-controlled trading organisation (formerly known as a local authority trading enterprise) owned jointly by the Dunedin City Council and the Otago Excursion Train Trust.

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The Taieri Gorge Limited is New Zealand’s longest tourist railway and stretches along the former Otago Central Railway from the 4 km peg on the Taieri Branch, 18 km west of Dunedin, to Middlemarch, a distance of some 60 kilometres. Between Dunedin and the start of the line its trains operate on KiwiRail’s Main South Line via a running rights agreement.

The line travels through spectacular scenery along the banks of the Taieri River, through numerous tunnels and climbing along the Taieri Gorge to the Strath Taieri. It crosses a dozen viaducts, including the southern hemisphere’s largest wrought iron structure, and passes through ten tunnels.

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At Wingatui Railway Station, the original building and signal box from 1914 has been restored and is one of the best remaining island platform stations in New Zealand. After the line passes through the 437 metres (1,434 ft) long Salisbury Tunnel, the longest on the line, it crosses Mullocky Gully over the 197 metres (646 ft) long Wingatui Viaduct, the largest wrought iron structure in New Zealand since it was built in 1887. The 47m tall viaduct’s riveted lattice structure rests on seven concrete and masonry piers.

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Shortly after Wingatui Viaduct, the route emerges from Mullocky Gully to join Taieri Gorge, and from then on follows that gorge above Taieri River to just east of Pukerangi. On the way the line passes former stations Parera, Mount Allen, Little Mount Allen, and Christmas Creek, crossing two curved viaducts at the latter two locations. Hindon, still operating as a crossing station, is typically one of the stopping points on the trip. Just before the station, the railway tracks share a combined road-rail bridge with Hindon Road, a local backroad.

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Another popular stopping point for photo opportunities is the Deep Stream viaduct. Here the line slowly starts to climb higher and out of the gorge, passing over the Flat Stream viaduct, and “The Notches”, a section of short bridges and cuttings through several rocky outcrops, on its way to Pukerangi. Between Pukerangi and Middlemarch, the railway only once more comes close to the Taieri River, where it crosses Sutton Creek over another combined road-rail bridge.

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In other words, if you love trains and beautiful, varied scenery, this is definitely something to add to your New Zealand travel list!

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Related Link: Dunedin Railways | Wikipedia

Things to See in New Zealand: Milford Sound Travel Attractions 15 JUN 2015

Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most famous tourist destinations, is a fiord in the south west of New Zealand’s South Island, within Fiordland National Park, Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve, and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site.

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Milford Sound runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea at Dale Point (also named after a location close to Milford Haven in Wales) – the mouth of the fiord – and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1,200 metres or more on either side. Among the peaks are The Elephant at 1,517 metres, said to resemble an elephant’s head, and The Lion, 1,302 metres, in the shape of a crouching lion.

Of course, the looming presence of the South Islands most iconic mountain peak, Mitre Peak, shouldn’t be forgotten either!

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Milford Sound sports two permanent waterfalls all year round, Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls. After heavy rain however, many hundreds of temporary waterfalls can be seen running down the steep sided rock faces that line the fiord. They are fed by rain water drenched moss and will last a few days at most once the rain stops.

In rainy and stormy days tourists can admire the play of the wind with the numerous waterfalls in Milford Sound. When meeting the cliff face the powerful wind often goes upward and waterfalls with a vertical drop get caught by wind, causing the water to go upwards.

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The beauty of this landscape draws thousands of visitors each day, with between 550,000 and 1 million visitors in total per year. This makes the sound one of New Zealand’s most-visited tourist spots, and also the most famous New Zealand tourist destination, even with its remote location and the long journey from the nearest population centres.

Almost all tourists going to the sound also take one of the boat tours which usually last one to two hours. They are offered by several companies, departing from the Milford Sound Visitors’ Centre. There is also the option of extended overnight cruises on Milford Sound.

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Backpacking, canoeing, and some other water sports are possible. A small number of companies also provide overnight boat trips. There is otherwise only limited accommodation at the sound, and only a very small percentage of tourists stay more than the day. Many tourists visiting Milford Sound usually stay in Te Anau to the south or Queenstown to the east.

An underwater tourist observatory found in one of the bays of the sound provides viewing of black coral, usually only found in much deeper waters. A dark surface layer of fresh water, stained by tannins from the surrounding forest, allows the corals to grow close to the surface here.

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Incidentally, Milford Sound is the only fiord in the area accessible by road – meaning that even if you’re not so keen on being out on the water, you don’t really have an excuse to miss out on this beauty!

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Related Link: Fiordland | Wikipedia