Saturday, March 14, 2015

Taieri Gorge Railway

One of my favorite ways to travel is by train.

I once took an overnight train from Rome to Paris. 
Then I did it again, but from Thailand to Malaysia. 
I even rode a train all the way from Seattle to San Francisco! 

What I'm trying to say is that I just really, really like trains.
I always meet interesting characters on the train, like that Iranian man who sat next to us in Thailand and sang us every Celine Dion song he knew (and it was a lot) while we slowly chugged south to Malaysia, but it's more than just the people.

Besides a boat, I cannot think of another form a travel that is relaxing. 
I like the sound of the wheels on the tracks.
I like the steady sway from side to side.
I like the huge windows and comfy seats.
I like watching the world pass by in a blur.

For me, being on a train just feels nice. 
While on our three week road trip through New Zealand, I was stoked to take a train ride through the south island's Taieri plain and gorge. I thought it would be an excellent break from the cramped backseat of the car (and it was).  I knew the minute we climbed on board the cute yellow train that we struck gold.

Joe and Gigi, a retired couple in their 70s, were our seats mates. Gigi was a talker and Joe was surly as ever. They regaled us with tales of their adventures, both thirty years old and more recent: climbing the Inca Trail, riding in a hot air balloon in Turkey, taking a helicopter safari in Botswana and exploring the pyramids in Egypt. Getting to meet them was so much fun. I can only hope we have enough spunk in us 50 years from now to still be globetrotting the world, one misadventure after another. 
The train ride itself was stunningly beautiful.

The journey begins in Dunedin, a city situated on the south island's lower east side, and heads inland through the Taieri plain and gorge.  The plain was lush and green and full of while, fluffy sheep. 
The region used to be a swampy flatland but was drained in the 1850s and is now a huge expanse of farmland. The gorge itself was immense. The train tracks were built high above the gorge, carved out by the Taieri River and more than 25 miles long, and the train hugs the steep ravine for a good hour before popping out in more farmland. 
The final destination is Middlemarch.

There, locals set up a farmers market to sell Merino wool and other hand made, farm products. This was easily one of my favorite things we did in New Zealand. From the good conversation to the views to the fun things we bought at the farmers market, it was a great way to spend half a day!

Packing my Suitcase





20 comments

  1. What beautiful scenery! I think that train journeys like this are one of the best ways to see the countryside, as you often see bits you wouldn't be able to from car, bike, or even sometimes foot.

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    1. I agree! While there was a hiking/biking trail, the train allows people crunched for time to still see the beautiful scenery!

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  2. These photos are amazing!

    I love trains, too - I spent my spring breaks in college going on multi-day train trips and then turning around and going home again.

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    1. Wow! That actually sounds like a great way to travel!

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  3. Stopping by from Travel Tuesday :)
    I love train travel as well! I didn't realize how awesome it was until moving to Germany last year. I didn't realize you could even take a train in New Zealand, but it looks like a beautiful ride! Your photos are lovely.

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    1. Thank you so much! I dream of taking a train trip through Europe-- I actually planned a two month Eurail trip that would take me through Western + Eastern Europe. Now, if only the bank account could realize such a dream.

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  4. I am so with you... also a major train fan. It's so much more relaxing for traveling.

    Love these photos! I imagine New Zealand is just naturally picturesque throughout, but this route is particularly beautiful.

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    1. It is terribly difficult to take an ugly photo in New Zealand :)

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  5. Wow this looks absolutely amazing! I'm a huge train fan, I'd travel by train over plane or car any day. I'd love to visit New Zealand sometime, and this has me convinced!

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  6. Wow that looks amazing! I was just in New Zealand in December, but didnt travel by train - I now regret that decision. Either way, the scenery in NZ is one of a kind. Great captures and I love the story.

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    1. I would go back to New Zealand in a heartbeat and then never leave.

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  7. I love train rides too for all the same reasons you listed. You really get to appreciate the land that you're on. I've never done an overnight train though - those kind of scare me a bit. I've heard plenty of horror stories about them in central / eastern Europe and I really just don't want to tempt fate. Regardless, this area of New Zealand looks like the perfect place for a train ride. Lovely photos!

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    1. I think you have to be laid back and flexible to survive an overnight train. All three experiences I had were terrible for sleep but amazing for everything else.

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  8. Amazing shots!! I also love traveling by train, but it has been a while since I last did it.

    Thank you for joining #MondayEscapes

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    1. I am loving Monday Escapes!! And thanks!! I think train travel is the best kind :)

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  9. I just love some of the characters you meet on these long train journeys! Great stories and amazing pictures! We are going on a train journey through the hills of Sri Lanka in January- really looking forward to it! #mondayescapes

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    1. That sounds amazing! I will look forward to reading about it! Sri Lanka has been on my list ever since a friend visited last winter!

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