[image:508,left]After the beauty of the South Island’s Alpine regions, the remainder of the trip was a bit of a let down. The rolling country grasslands just could not compete with the magnificence of the mountains, forests and lakes. We left Te Anau and drove westwards to Dunedin, passing through small towns and sheep farms, not too different from some of my favourite parts of rural Australia.
[image:511,left][image:512,right]Arriving in Dunedin early in the afternoon, we checked into the Aberdeen Motel, then drove back through the university city to the historic and ornate station. From there, we boarded the Taieri Gorge tourist train, a diesel hauled collection of heritage and custom built panoramic carriages that follows the Taieri River for a distance of 77 kilometres, although our trip was only up to Pukerangi, 58 kilometres from Dunedin.
The entire journey was supposed to take four hours. However, we were late leaving Dunedin as the initial mainline track out of station had to first be checked for warpage due to the heat, the limit an incredibly low 22 degrees Celcius! We made it out past the end of the mainline and off on to the tourist track spur when the locomotive broke down, stranding us for another hour. The train’s staff were very helpful, giving out free drinks. Meanwhile Beatrice stopped looking out of the window and became addicted to the Scrabble game on my PDA. Eventually an alternative locomotive was found and we began our ascent up the gorge.
I would have said that the scenery was impressive, but for the fact that we had just come from the Southern Alps. That said, at least we could sit back and admire the view through an open window or from the balconies at the carriage ends.
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[image:562,left]Pukerangi was simply a set of passing loops beside a platform and couple of residences. While the locomotive swapped ends we took the opportunity to wander around before we began the return journey. Fortunately, this was less eventful than the trip out.
[image:583,right]Beatrice was desperate for an opportunity to try some New Zealand seafood, so we spent the evening searching for a suitable restaurant. We initially tried Dunedin’s beaches, but that proved fruitless, except for the beautiful evening views. Eventually we found a restaurant in the CBD and ordered a seafood platter for two at a very reasonable price. It was huge, with crabs, prawns, fish and mussells. So many mussells, that Beatrice has now sworn off the shellfish. A full day, and a very full night!