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Dunedin -- Otago Peninsula or Taieri Gorge Train

Malibu, California
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Dunedin -- Otago Peninsula or Taieri Gorge Train

My husband and I will be on the Crystal Symphony in Dunedin in December, and I am really conflicted about what to do. The Taieri Gorge Train sounds very beautiful and relaxing. I have contacted them to inquire how we can purchase tickets and avoid the big crowds on a ship's shore excursion. They told me that there are no individual tickets available -- they have all been taken up by two cruise ships in town that day. So, my only option for the Taieri Gorge Train will be to do this with Crystal.

The other option that looks fascinating is the Royal Albatross Centre, New Zealand Marine Studies Center and Fort Taiaroa. Although Crystal has not yet posted their excursions online, this is an excursion that was offered in the past, and I expect they will again. The Royal Albatross Centre offers the same basic tour (without the ship's excursion), but whether or not there will be availability in the event of numerous cruise ships in town, I'm not sure.

My main issue is: Which is the more interesting tour? Yes, we love animal life (Alaska was one of our best cruises -- loved it so much we did it two years later again with our kids), but we also love beautiful dramatic scenery. What to do? Any suggestions for doing them without a ship's tour? Also, how strenuous is the walking on the Royal Albatross tour? We are reasonably fit and active, but I'm not looking to hike a mountain (although I do walk one hour per day). What are your thoughts on this? Also, how wet do we get? Shoes? Pants? Upper clothes? Please share your experiences.

Thanks,

Shelley

New Zealand
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1. Re: Dunedin -- Otago Peninsula or Taieri Gorge Train

Hello Shelley :)

Both tours are excellent and sadly, both will be fully booked by the cruise ships, so that will be the only way to enjoy either one.

So which one? The albatross are wonderful - perhaps you can check the website to see whether there could be chicks to view at the time of your visit. It's a number of years since I did the tour and I don't recall the walking being arduous at all. And no, you certainly don't have to climb a mountain. How wet will you get? That depends on whether it's raining and how long you choose to stand in it :)

If me, I would probably opt for neither tour. And instead engage a driver to take you other places - you could possibly share with another couple to reduce costs. You could then possibly enjoy a visit to Larnach Castle http://www.larnachcastle.co.nz/

a cruise on the Monarch if the weather is fine http://www.wildlife.co.nz/

or a trip to sandfly bay (sanddunes, seals, penguins)

or the worlds steepest street, Baldwin st http://www.dunedin.nz.com/baldwin-street.aspx

hope this doesn't confuse too much :)

The

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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2. Re: Dunedin -- Otago Peninsula or Taieri Gorge Train

There won't be chicks at Tairoa Head in Dec. I visited the Albatross Centre last month and was told February was the month to see chicks. Not much walking to the hides (it is uphill but about 5-10 min). The Elm Wildlife Tour is spectacular but does require some walking from the car park on a headland down to the beach and back again. The fur seals, Hookers sealions & yellow-eyed penguins were great. They told me that they run special tours for the cruise ships because their penguin tours run into the evening (3:30pm - 9:30 or 10pm).

Mobile,AL
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3. Re: Dunedin -- Otago Peninsula or Taieri Gorge Train

MalibuCa:

I think that both WanakaLakes and Zhuhai2007 have given you good advice.

I was in Dunedin this past November and enjoyed seeing both the Taieri Gorge by train to Middlemarch and back as well as visiting the Otago Peninsula but this was breeding season so access at the Royal Albatross Centre(RTC) was appropriately limited.

To paraphrase my favorite American philosopher(Yogi Berra) you won't make a "wrong" mistake with either choice.

My personal preference if you have only one afternoon & evening in Dunedin would be to go on an Elm Wildlife Tour option that can add other additions(like the RTC, Monarch cruise, etc.) if you desire to their great Peninsula Encounters tour which I found to be outstanding. As Zhuhai2007

points out and I can confirm one should be aware that you have to make two walks down and up from the headland to the beach to see the sealions & penguins up close & personal and to the overlook where the seal colony resides. Be aware that there are no bathroom facilities once you get to the headland.

I hope that you have a great time in this wonderful part of the world.

Mobile Resident

Manchester, United...
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4. Re: Dunedin -- Otago Peninsula or Taieri Gorge Train

I vote for the train trip, I've taken it recently as it was great. Amazing views and you get out of the train at a number of locations and just go "wow"

Regarding the information about the trains being booked out by the Cruise ships, what normally happens is a special train is put on specifically for cruise liners that go into Dunedin. The price of this excursion includes, I believe, transport to and from the train plus a meal on board and the train trip itself.

If you look at the Taieri Gorge Train website you may well see an additional train running that is the normal, publically available trip. This will probably be cheaper than what the cruise offers, but of course the timing may be poor for you.

Whichever activity you chose I hope you enjoy your stay in Dunedin, a city I am presently sitting in watching cruise liner passengers walk around the city,

Toowoomba
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5. Re: Dunedin -- Otago Peninsula or Taieri Gorge Train

I'd do the castle - never heard a negative comment.

Dunedin, New Zealand
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6. Re: Dunedin -- Otago Peninsula or Taieri Gorge Train

I volunteer on the Taieri Gorge Cruise ship trains and have not got sick of the views yet although I am kept busy serving the passengers. I am surprised there is no regular tour running but the timetables for next summer are not out yet and if 2 cruise ships are in port the number of carriages are limited. The public tour is much cheaper but you have to catch a shuttle bus into town and walk down to the station (the cruise charter trains go out to the wharf) by 9.30am. Food in the buffet car would be extra. If there is a problem (engine breakdown etc) the ship will wait for a cruise chartered train but not the regular train. While not common this is always a possibility.

The Elm Wildlife tour is wonderful but the penguins are best seen at sunset so not possible as most cruise ships leave about 6pm. I do not know what is observed on their special cruise ship tours.

Brisbane, Australia
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7. Re: Dunedin -- Otago Peninsula or Taieri Gorge Train

Here are some other sights in Dunedin

Olveston House

http://www.olveston.co.nz/

The Octagon

eventfinder.co.nz/venue/the-octagon-dunedin

Signal Hill

Views down over the city, harbour, rolling hills, beaches and sea.

The Railway Station where you'd get the Taieri Gorge trip return

www.dunedin.nz.com/railway-station.aspx

Larnach Castle I saw a black cat on the front stairs there...suited the building I thought. Lovely grounds and views.

http://www.larnachcastle.co.nz/

Otago peninsular

http://www.otago-peninsula.co.nz/

Cadbury Chocolate factory

http://www.cadburyworld.co.nz/

Perhaps a day tour. Here is TA review for a private tour

tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g255119…

Dunedin has lovely architecture and perhaps a look around the buildings of the University also.

Singapore, Singapore
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8. Re: Dunedin -- Otago Peninsula or Taieri Gorge Train

hi Wanaka Lake, is sandfly bay a better place to see penguin or Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony? My girls would love to see the penguins. I'm trying to figure out how/where to get a good view of these little birds.

Dunedin, New Zealand
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9. Re: Dunedin -- Otago Peninsula or Taieri Gorge Train

Sandfly bay is a steep 3 km walk from the carpark.

New Zealand
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10. Re: Dunedin -- Otago Peninsula or Taieri Gorge Train

With young ones, I think Oamaru is your best bet for penguin watching.

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