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Dunedin, New Zealand: Glorious Scenics, but a big challenge

Dunedin is our last stop in New Zealand before venturing on to Australia. Dunedin, derived from the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, is the largest city in the southern half of the South Island of New Zealand. Its resident population of 120,000 is bolstered by about 20,000 kids... students... attending the University of Otago in town.

The day started with a nice sunrise as we entered port.

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Our trip is to the scenic Taieri Gorge on the Dunedin Railway. The Railway is an interesting story. New Zealand has an extensive rail system throughout the country. As railway needs were replaced by motor vehicles, the need for rail service to the mines and towns to and past the Gorge declined to the point that the line was shut down. Some of it was converted to biking paths, but the City of Dunedin bought the section to and through the Gorge, turning it into a riding experience for tourists and others. They use a mixture of restored railcars and locomotives for the tours. Unfortunately, since most passengers were tourists off cruise ships, COVID-19 forced the line into hibernation when tourism ceased. The line was resurrected in late 2021, and despite losing money, the City Council agreed to operate through 2024. The line's future is in question, but discussions are ongoing about keeping this attractive excursion active.   

Whining follows; skip if you want to. The scenics are wonderful through the Gorge but present a huge challenge to capturing images. The carriages are typical train cars with big windows, but they are glass, not open. It makes for a comfortable air-conditioned ride, but the reflections on a bright, sunny day are almost overwhelming. Cell Phones do kinda' OK because they can be pushed flat against a window, cutting out a lot of glare and reflection; DSLR's not so much. The solution is a good polarizer, keeping lenses at a 90-degree angle to the window, taking a lot of pictures, and dodging reflections if possible.   

Some nice scenics despite the challenges...

The first part of the journey is in the flatlands from Dunedin on the commercial rail line to the cutoff to the Gorge. Spent the time trying to figure out ways around the reflections that didn't involve a baseball bat, shattering glass and jail time. The images were sacrificed a bit.

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Lots of sheep. Some of our fellow travelors could not resist making baa- ad jokes.


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More sheep

After the cutoff, the train slowed,  and the climb to and through the Gorge commenced.

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The Wingatui Viaduct is the largest wrought iron structure in New Zealand. No, it is not another train. They crossed the viaduct, let us disembark, and backed the train back over for a photo opportunity. They were nice enough to return and pick us back up.


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The pine trees are all hand-planted and then harvested about 25-years later for the thriving timber industry in New Zealand.

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Crossing Christmas Creek

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Two signs along the way

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Dangerous and very dangerous


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At the halfway point, where the train reversed course back to Dunedin, we disembarked at a nice park area. Several benches were scattered about, including this one.

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Dunedin, New Zealand


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