Kiwi Explorer Research: Part 8

The Steam Dreams Rail Co is running a 3 week tour of New Zealand in October 2022. See for more info.

This blog reveals how the research trip scoping out the tour panned out.

Day 8 – 225 miles to cover, so we were off after a quick breakfast.

The mood in the Nissan was sombre today. I’d had some bad news from home, so wasn’t on great form and this infected the rest of the car’s occupants. We each listened to our own preferred podcast/broadcast/streaming service and watched the beautiful scenery as Marcus skillfully drove us towards Dunedin.

But, typically, Marcus wasn’t keen on a straightforward A to B journey – we were to stop 3 hours into our journey for a much-needed lunch at Riverstone, just south of Waitaki Bridge and just north of Oamaru. Despite my dark mood, we enjoyed a delightful lunch in a large, bright cafe, set among an exotic garden centre and an eclectic range of gift shops, with a view of Riverstone Castle (sadly it wasn’t open to the public, but seen at a distance from the cafe, it looked almost Disney-like and rather majestic, if somewhat out of context).

Riverstone Castle – perfect place to stop between Christchurch and Dunedin

Marcus wandered over the road to the railway track (strangely there are few barriers around the network in New Zealand), to see if it’d be a suitable place to disembark passengers on the journey from Christchurch to Dunedin (on Day 15 of the real tour) for a light lunch. Always on the lookout for opportunities!

Next stop was Oamaru, where we had thought we’d stop for a night at the end of the tour. (Having completed the research trip, we’ve had a rethink but will stop here for a short visit… watch this space for more details). So, I spent a few hours in the tourist information centre, visiting hotels and the station, spotting the Steampunk Museum, and generally wandering along the wide main street, resplendent with Victorian architecture. I sensed something of a “Wild West” feeling about the place.

Oamaru’s Steampunk Museum

Mindful that we had a meeting that evening with a catering adviser in Dunedin, we had to rush off for the remaining 70 mile drive. It’s all go!

We arrived in the outskirts of Dunedin, which although still very Kiwi, reminded us all of a town local to us in Surrey that we know well and like very much; Dorking – although Dorking doesn’t have the benefit of being coastal! Every now and then, there are steep roads from which you can see the other side of the city. It’s known for its Scottish and Maori heritage, plus Victorian and Edwardian architecture – and although I’d never been there before, it felt strangely familiar.

View across Otago Harbour, Dunedin

We popped to a supermarket to get some supper (my most hated chore at home, but somehow fascinating and exciting when overseas – it’s all the unusual things they have on offer in supermarkets anywhere but England! It’s like being in a different world!). It’s funny how when you’re at home, you crave going out to eat (to save cooking and washing up, mostly) but when you’re away from home, you crave eating in (to have something simple and possibly healthy!).

Another fantastic motel – this time, we had little units with kitchen/sitting room/bathroom downstairs and a bedroom on a mezzanine floor upstairs. Beautifully appointed. Another early night beckoned, as Marcus and I had a meeting with the top people at Dunedin Railways early doors, at the grand Dunedin Station.

Click here to view the full itinerary of the Kiwi Explorer online.

For more information, or to book, please call the Booking Office on 01483 209888. Alternatively, fill in the form below to register your interest in the trip, and a member of the booking team will reply with your holiday quote.

Request a holiday quote

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