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JacknShelby

Dunedin - Train Dilema...What to do?

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Hi,

I'm after some personal opinions from those who have done the Taieri Gorge Railway excursion in Dunedin.  The day we are in port there will be two cruise ships and all seats on the train have been booked by the ships so we can not take the journey direct.  The ship cost at $260 AUD pp (on sale) is high and there is not much else that interests us or we are already doing something similar at other ports.

 

If you have done this train journey how did you find it?  Was it a valued experience that you are glad you didn't miss or perhaps not something you felt was valuable (not just money wise but even in your time or the matter of forgoing another excursion to go on the train).

 

Any feedback is appreciated.  I understand it is all relative to the individual but very interested in your experience whilst we try to decide what is best for ourselves.

 

Thank you as always

Carla 😀

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8 hours ago, JacknShelby said:

Hi,

I'm after some personal opinions from those who have done the Taieri Gorge Railway excursion in Dunedin.  The day we are in port there will be two cruise ships and all seats on the train have been booked by the ships so we can not take the journey direct.  The ship cost at $260 AUD pp (on sale) is high and there is not much else that interests us or we are already doing something similar at other ports.

 

If you have done this train journey how did you find it?  Was it a valued experience that you are glad you didn't miss or perhaps not something you felt was valuable (not just money wise but even in your time or the matter of forgoing another excursion to go on the train).

 

Any feedback is appreciated.  I understand it is all relative to the individual but very interested in your experience whilst we try to decide what is best for ourselves.

 

Thank you as always

Carla 😀

Carla, we did it privately, not a ship's tour but that day there was only one ship in port. We loved the train trip but know of others who didn't so much. We privately booked it for about half the price of the one the ship was offering as we thought that it was too expensive. There were two trains operating that day - the ship's train and one for privately booked passengers. The ship's tour trip started at the port whereas we had to go by coach into Dunedin Station to board the second train. 

 

What ship are you on and what date are you in Dunedin?

 

Leigh

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1 hour ago, possum52 said:

Carla, we did it privately, not a ship's tour but that day there was only one ship in port. We loved the train trip but know of others who didn't so much. We privately booked it for about half the price of the one the ship was offering as we thought that it was too expensive. There were two trains operating that day - the ship's train and one for privately booked passengers. The ship's tour trip started at the port whereas we had to go by coach into Dunedin Station to board the second train. 

 

What ship are you on and what date are you in Dunedin?

 

Leigh

 

Hi Leigh,

We are on Celebrity Solstice and are in port on 15th March 2020. I have checked the train website itself and it isn't offering any direct journeys for the morning, only late in the afternoon.

We booked the cruise late so I thought it was just that the tickets were all sold but a tour company told me it was the cruise ships that had all the tickets. 

We don't really want to spend that much money as there are three of us but also don't want to miss the opportunity when we have the chance of it is a "must do" kind of thing.

I'm tied on what to do. 😣😀 

Thanks

Carla

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At the cost of the ship's excursion for 3 people, you could consider hiring a private guide to take you around Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula.  We ended up booking a pre-cruise extension that will bring us directly from Queenstown to the ship in Dunedin, but when we were considering a DIY pre-tour I had decided not to do the train because Otago seemed more interesting [Larnach Castle, Royal Albatross Centre, Yellow-Eyed Penguin Preserve, and other sites]

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Carla, I can understand your hesitation, it is quite expensive for three people to do the Taieri Gorge train if using a ship's excursion. I have another suggestion for you -  our cruise friends did another train trip which is only 2-2.5 hrs  long and costs a fraction of the cost of the Taieri trip. It is called the Seasider - below is a description if the excursion from the Dunedin Railways website. Our friends loved it and highly recommend it.

THE SEASIDER

The Seasider runs north of Dunedin on a section of railway considered a highlight in the rail network in New Zealand. Departing from the magnificent Dunedin Railway Station, the Seasider travels along the edge of the picturesque Otago Harbour, before climbing the gentle slopes above Port Chalmers, a pretty port-side town. At the top of the hill, the train emerges to look over the dazzling Blueskin Bay, revealing breathtaking views over bays, inlets and beaches.

 

The cost for adults is $70 NZ and children $25. The link for the website is - https://secure.customlinc.co.nz/dunedinrailways/availability.aspx?CAT=SS&_ga=2.242089025.2136983892.1576016217-1192088886.1576016217

At this time there are still tickets available for March 15th.

 

Leigh

 

 

Edited by possum52

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We were on the Radiance a few years ago.  Same issue.  Cost then was $200 each.    We reserved a spot.

 

Prior to Denedin, I think Wellington, we walked into a NZ Gov't tourist office.  They sold us the same trip for $100.  We cancelled the RCI excursion.

 

The diferences:  The RCI train came right to the port.  We had to take the bus into town (dropped us off at the train station).  I think it was a few dollars each.  This was a second train. It left about ten minutes after the RCI train went by.

 

The RCI tour included a box lunch and a drink....box of wine or a can of beer.  We had nothing. But, our train stopped at the end end for a time. There was a pub beside the station and the local service club had a barbeque set up and were selling great food.

There was a refreshment booth on one of the cars and the train trip was narrated.

 

We took a bus back from the train station to the dock-after walking around town for a short while.

 

That night we heard many, many complaints from those who had been on the RCI tour.  They had found out what those who did it independently paid, and those who bought an independent full package tour.  Bottom line...the RCI excursion price was a major rip off and people were quite justified to be upset IMHO.

 

We found the train ride enjoyable but a little long.  The train station is beautiful...inside and out. 

 

If we had to do it again, we would do the Seasider rather than the Gorge.  There was an independent tour that brought a double decker bus to the dock, then to the station, and back.  This was sold out by the time we knew about it.

Edited by iancal

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9 hours ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

At the cost of the ship's excursion for 3 people, you could consider hiring a private guide to take you around Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula.  We ended up booking a pre-cruise extension that will bring us directly from Queenstown to the ship in Dunedin, but when we were considering a DIY pre-tour I had decided not to do the train because Otago seemed more interesting [Larnach Castle, Royal Albatross Centre, Yellow-Eyed Penguin Preserve, and other sites]

 

Thanks Jazzbeau.  I'm very interested in the wildlife options but I'm pushing my luck a bit with DH as I have already booked many other wildlife tours on this cruise.  Maybe I can leave him at the Pub and do it by myself. 

 

Funny you mention your pre-cruise tour...When I was looking around at options I actually googled how far Queenstown was from Dunedin thinking we could skip the town and have the day in Queenstown instead.  That was wishful thinking, based on maps we would have to turn around just before we got there to get back to the ship in time!  🤣🤣

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7 hours ago, ericosmith said:

For what it's worth, the ship's excursion is on sale through tomorrow.  

 

Thank you I did know that but always good to let someone know in case.  The normal price of the tour is $368 AUD pp.  If it was that it would be a no but they are getting me in with the sale even though it is still very expensive. 

 

Thanks

Carla 🙂

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5 hours ago, iancal said:

We were on the Radiance a few years ago.  Same issue.  Cost then was $200 each.    We reserved a spot.

 

Prior to Denedin, I think Wellington, we walked into a NZ Gov't tourist office.  They sold us the same trip for $100.  We cancelled the RCI excursion.

 

The diferences:  The RCI train came right to the port.  We had to take the bus into town (dropped us off at the train station).  I think it was a few dollars each.  This was a second train. It left about ten minutes after the RCI train went by.

 

The RCI tour included a box lunch and a drink....box of wine or a can of beer.  We had nothing. But, our train stopped at the end end for a time. There was a pub beside the station and the local service club had a barbeque set up and were selling great food.

There was a refreshment booth on one of the cars and the train trip was narrated.

 

We took a bus back from the train station to the dock-after walking around town for a short while.

 

That night we heard many, many complaints from those who had been on the RCI tour.  They had found out what those who did it independently paid, and those who bought an independent full package tour.  Bottom line...the RCI excursion price was a major rip off and people were quite justified to be upset IMHO.

 

We found the train ride enjoyable but a little long.  The train station is beautiful...inside and out. 

 

If we had to do it again, we would do the Seasider rather than the Gorge.  There was an independent tour that brought a double decker bus to the dock, then to the station, and back.  This was sold out by the time we knew about it.

 

It's crazy some of the mark ups.  I mean I expect to pay extra as their tours come with certain guarantees and my first cruise all we did was ship tours as we didn't know any better and would have had no confidence to do it ourselves.  But is this case the tour's normal price is 3x what you can independently do and the sale price 2x.  That is taking it too far I think. 

 

Maybe the train line charges a premium for the charter of their service, I really don't know but it's a lot and they have taken away the option of doing it ourselves by providing full access to the cruise lines on this particular date.  It does seem that if there is only one ship in port you can get direct tickets ok as you did.

 

Cruise Critic opened my world up to the other options and from our second cruise I have not looked back. 

 

Thank you for your feedback on the journey too 😊

 

Carla

Edited by JacknShelby

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9 hours ago, possum52 said:

Carla, I can understand your hesitation, it is quite expensive for three people to do the Taieri Gorge train if using a ship's excursion. I have another suggestion for you -  our cruise friends did another train trip which is only 2-2.5 hrs  long and costs a fraction of the cost of the Taieri trip. It is called the Seasider - below is a description if the excursion from the Dunedin Railways website. Our friends loved it and highly recommend it.

THE SEASIDER

The Seasider runs north of Dunedin on a section of railway considered a highlight in the rail network in New Zealand. Departing from the magnificent Dunedin Railway Station, the Seasider travels along the edge of the picturesque Otago Harbour, before climbing the gentle slopes above Port Chalmers, a pretty port-side town. At the top of the hill, the train emerges to look over the dazzling Blueskin Bay, revealing breathtaking views over bays, inlets and beaches.

 

The cost for adults is $70 NZ and children $25. The link for the website is - https://secure.customlinc.co.nz/dunedinrailways/availability.aspx?CAT=SS&_ga=2.242089025.2136983892.1576016217-1192088886.1576016217

At this time there are still tickets available for March 15th.

 

Leigh

 

 

 

Hi Leigh,

Thanks again, I will look at this option and maybe add in a private tour to some of the other sights as also suggested. Our own personal combo tour. 😀

It doesn't appear to go inland over high bridges like DH wanted but looks like it reaches some heights and against some cliffs.  Thank you for the links and feedback from your friends.

Kind Regards

Carla

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Hi, Carla-

We are going to be in Dunedin on Jan. 5 on the Ruby Princess and I had the same dilemma as you when making decisions about what to do in port.  The train ride is very expensive and many of the reviews are lackluster.  After looking at many possibilities, the four of us decided to book the Elm Wildlife tour to see penguins, sea lions, and albatross.  The tour lasts about seven hours and has great reviews and appeals to our love of nature. 

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The price difference was actually more.  The RCI excursion was $200 USD.  The NZ tourist office price was $100NZ, as I recall that was about $75-80 USD.

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On 12/12/2019 at 2:09 AM, bonship said:

Hi, Carla-

We are going to be in Dunedin on Jan. 5 on the Ruby Princess and I had the same dilemma as you when making decisions about what to do in port.  The train ride is very expensive and many of the reviews are lackluster.  After looking at many possibilities, the four of us decided to book the Elm Wildlife tour to see penguins, sea lions, and albatross.  The tour lasts about seven hours and has great reviews and appeals to our love of nature. 

My personal opinion is that the train ride is too long and on the return portion most everyone was either asleep or falling asleep. It’s a great Reid but an hour is enough. But do take a look into the train station as it is a beautiful building especially inside.  I also, have been to see the albatross penguins etc and thought it was much more interesting. Larnarch castle is also a great one to see. Hope this helps

 

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On 12/11/2019 at 9:37 PM, JacknShelby said:

 

Hi Leigh,

Thanks again, I will look at this option and maybe add in a private tour to some of the other sights as also suggested. Our own personal combo tour. 😀

It doesn't appear to go inland over high bridges like DH wanted but looks like it reaches some heights and against some cliffs.  Thank you for the links and feedback from your friends.

Kind Regards

Carla

 

The scenery is quite pretty, but not spectacular. It terminates at a siding where everybody changes sides to get a different view. There are several short tunnels. It starts from Dunedin station and passes through Port Chalmers. If you ask, they will let you off at Port Chalmers on the way back which saves having to find a shuttle bus back to port. They drop you off at the large church on the hill.

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On 12/13/2019 at 11:36 AM, new kiwi girl said:

My personal opinion is that the train ride is too long and on the return portion most everyone was either asleep or falling asleep. It’s a great Reid but an hour is enough. But do take a look into the train station as it is a beautiful building especially inside.  I also, have been to see the albatross penguins etc and thought it was much more interesting. Larnarch castle is also a great one to see. Hope this helps

 

 

On 12/14/2019 at 2:54 PM, SinbadThePorter said:

 

The scenery is quite pretty, but not spectacular. It terminates at a siding where everybody changes sides to get a different view. There are several short tunnels. It starts from Dunedin station and passes through Port Chalmers. If you ask, they will let you off at Port Chalmers on the way back which saves having to find a shuttle bus back to port. They drop you off at the large church on the hill.

Thank you for sharing your experiences! 

Kind Regards

Carla

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On 12/11/2019 at 1:09 PM, bonship said:

Hi, Carla-

We are going to be in Dunedin on Jan. 5 on the Ruby Princess and I had the same dilemma as you when making decisions about what to do in port.  The train ride is very expensive and many of the reviews are lackluster.  After looking at many possibilities, the four of us decided to book the Elm Wildlife tour to see penguins, sea lions, and albatross.  The tour lasts about seven hours and has great reviews and appeals to our love of nature. 

We are on this cruise. I think I will look at the Elm Wildlife tour as that sounds interesting. Have you joined the roll call for this cruise?

 

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On 12/11/2019 at 6:18 AM, JacknShelby said:

Thanks Jazzbeau.  I'm very interested in the wildlife options but I'm pushing my luck a bit with DH as I have already booked many other wildlife tours on this cruise.  Maybe I can leave him at the Pub and do it by myself. 

 

There are many other options besides the two train trips, and Otago Peninsula (that's what I am doing).

 

Other Possibilities
- Spend the whole time in Dunedin - “Brooding Dunedin, festooned with Gothic structures is New Zealand’s oldest city. It was based on the Scottish capital.”


- Port Chalmers: If you have time before or after your day in Dunedin, check out Port Chalmers. Although there's not a whole lot to see and do here, the historic buildings and the free Wi-Fi on George Street make it worth a stroll. Once back onboard your cruise ship, make sure to watch the ship's departure as she passes the Taiaroa Head Lighthouse on her starboard side; the lighthouse has been marking the entrance to Otago Harbour since 1864.


In Dunedin:
- Toitu Otago Settlers Museum -
31 Queens Garden, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Near the Octagon and is between the Chinese Garden and the historic Railway Station, in the cultural heritage precinct.
Admission is free.
Museum of social history dedicated to telling the story of the people of Dunedin and the surrounding area, whose character, culture, technology, art, fashion and transport shaped New Zealand’s first great city. Open everyday from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
https://www.toituosm.com/#!home


- Visit - Octagon with many cafes, free city art gallery, Anglican cathedral.
Then east along Lower Stuart street to the Railway station (and do not miss the nearby Toitu Settlers Museum (free) with Chinese gardens (entry charge)). There are other art galleries/shops in that area. Take the bus north to the excellent Botanical gardens (lots of people in fine weather but just one cafe).


- CityWalks https://www.citywalks.co.nz/the-walks

 

Frances

 

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The Otago peninsula is about 1000% more interesting than the train ride though we met and enjoyed talking with some locals on the ride.  The albatross center and Larnach house are more fun with great scenery.  The train station with museum, however, is fun if you have time to kill.  We did the train privately so less expensive but still not all that interesting.

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On 12/23/2019 at 2:12 PM, Tansy Mews said:

 

There are many other options besides the two train trips, and Otago Peninsula (that's what I am doing).

 

Other Possibilities
- Spend the whole time in Dunedin - “Brooding Dunedin, festooned with Gothic structures is New Zealand’s oldest city. It was based on the Scottish capital.”


- Port Chalmers: If you have time before or after your day in Dunedin, check out Port Chalmers. Although there's not a whole lot to see and do here, the historic buildings and the free Wi-Fi on George Street make it worth a stroll. Once back onboard your cruise ship, make sure to watch the ship's departure as she passes the Taiaroa Head Lighthouse on her starboard side; the lighthouse has been marking the entrance to Otago Harbour since 1864.


In Dunedin:
- Toitu Otago Settlers Museum -
31 Queens Garden, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Near the Octagon and is between the Chinese Garden and the historic Railway Station, in the cultural heritage precinct.
Admission is free.
Museum of social history dedicated to telling the story of the people of Dunedin and the surrounding area, whose character, culture, technology, art, fashion and transport shaped New Zealand’s first great city. Open everyday from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
https://www.toituosm.com/#!home


- Visit - Octagon with many cafes, free city art gallery, Anglican cathedral.
Then east along Lower Stuart street to the Railway station (and do not miss the nearby Toitu Settlers Museum (free) with Chinese gardens (entry charge)). There are other art galleries/shops in that area. Take the bus north to the excellent Botanical gardens (lots of people in fine weather but just one cafe).


- CityWalks https://www.citywalks.co.nz/the-walks

 

Frances

 

Hello Frances,

 

I just look at so many option and the train looks to be very long and very expensive ...So just sent a message for the Citywalks to see if they still have room as this seems more reasonable and interesting. 

Thanks for the suggestions.

 

Sea ya

Eric

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On 12/11/2019 at 9:09 PM, bonship said:

Hi, Carla-

We are going to be in Dunedin on Jan. 5 on the Ruby Princess and I had the same dilemma as you when making decisions about what to do in port.  The train ride is very expensive and many of the reviews are lackluster.  After looking at many possibilities, the four of us decided to book the Elm Wildlife tour to see penguins, sea lions, and albatross.  The tour lasts about seven hours and has great reviews and appeals to our love of nature. 

Hi  @bonship, I hope you enjoyed your cruise.  How was the Elm Wildlife tour you took?

 

 

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On 12/23/2019 at 1:57 AM, supergran said:

We are on this cruise. I think I will look at the Elm Wildlife tour as that sounds interesting. Have you joined the roll call for this cruise?

 

 

Hi @supergran, Yes I'm on the roll call. I'm going to pop in there again soon.  Chat there 🙂

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On 12/24/2019 at 3:12 AM, Tansy Mews said:

 

There are many other options besides the two train trips, and Otago Peninsula (that's what I am doing).

 

Other Possibilities
- Spend the whole time in Dunedin - “Brooding Dunedin, festooned with Gothic structures is New Zealand’s oldest city. It was based on the Scottish capital.”


- Port Chalmers: If you have time before or after your day in Dunedin, check out Port Chalmers. Although there's not a whole lot to see and do here, the historic buildings and the free Wi-Fi on George Street make it worth a stroll. Once back onboard your cruise ship, make sure to watch the ship's departure as she passes the Taiaroa Head Lighthouse on her starboard side; the lighthouse has been marking the entrance to Otago Harbour since 1864.


In Dunedin:
- Toitu Otago Settlers Museum -
31 Queens Garden, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Near the Octagon and is between the Chinese Garden and the historic Railway Station, in the cultural heritage precinct.
Admission is free.
Museum of social history dedicated to telling the story of the people of Dunedin and the surrounding area, whose character, culture, technology, art, fashion and transport shaped New Zealand’s first great city. Open everyday from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
https://www.toituosm.com/#!home


- Visit - Octagon with many cafes, free city art gallery, Anglican cathedral.
Then east along Lower Stuart street to the Railway station (and do not miss the nearby Toitu Settlers Museum (free) with Chinese gardens (entry charge)). There are other art galleries/shops in that area. Take the bus north to the excellent Botanical gardens (lots of people in fine weather but just one cafe).


- CityWalks https://www.citywalks.co.nz/the-walks

 

Frances

 

Thank you for all the different options information Frances. I'll check it out now. 🙂

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JacknShelby, we have been back from our cruise for a couple of weeks.  The Elm Wildlife Tour was absolutely fantastic.  I highly recommend it.  Our cruise, overall, was great, but we missed two ports (Akaroa and Fiordlands) because of high winds and had 27 hours of rocking and rolling in the Tasman Sea.  We had a good time, but if I had it to do all over again, I would take a land tour of New Zealand.  Such a beautiful country and we only got a taste of it. 

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