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.