All aboard the yearly Dominion Post readers’ rail excursion

It changed into a once-in-a-lifetime revel in. Tell you what, by no means again.”

That was a pinnacle-10 joke at a recent Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The first line mirrors the yearly Dominion Post Readers’ Rail Tour – but the second line really would not, as dozens of readers journey with us time and again.

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Fabulous scenery, splendid consolation, corporation, meals, wine and tours all combine to make this a first-rate revel in – and now we’re doing it again, from October 5-18.

Unlike many different rail trips and tours, this one is all frills and no fuss – and the one-prevent-shop nature is broadly lauded with the aid of preceding visitors. Get on, get off, your tour group do the relaxation.

This year’s Spring Tour uses the Interislander ferry, mainline and niche trains, and coaches, to take you from Wellington to the east and west coasts of the South Island, and as some distance south as Fiordland and Dunedin. Please see the itinerary for full details.

So, I’d want to invite to sign up for us on this specific trip.

It could even save you writing a letter or two to the editor – whether in praise or now not – because, as is normal, I’ll be joining the trip for some nights.

My predecessor, Bernadette Courtney, tells me this was usually a huge treat in her yr as she engaged head to head with many readers.

“It can even get a little fiery at instances,” she tells me. I will not thoughts due to the fact, like her, I cost passionate readers who talk their minds.

And what higher way to do that – in preference to through telephone calls or emails – than over a pitcher of correct wine and top-notch food.

I look ahead to assembly a lot of you on the excursion.

Twenty-plus years of readers’ rail tours haven’t dampened appetites for seeing new Zealand backyards and scenic spots seldom visible from a bus or automobile.

The tours started in 1994, while the options of maximum Kiwis had been to go overseas – to look Buck House in London, kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland and whip thru Europe in a train.

Sensible tourists stayed away for a couple of years, however, others ought to manage 3 or four weeks at the well-trodden OE route.

While they have been getting better from their hard work, chartered trains running on New Zealand tracks were beginning to the faucet into a bit-used marketplace.

Early on, a retired diplomat stated he had determined to join his first readers’ excursion due to the fact he becomes sick of continually being a motive force, in no way a passenger. And besides, he’d in no way been to Whangamomona, capital of the lower backcountry republic of the equal call.

He got his desire.

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When the first South Island excursion was organized, he changed into the 1/3 man or woman to pay a deposit. Two years later, he changed into astonished while impromptu mini-lectures on how to build South Island motorway bridges were given by means of a fellow passenger who just passed off to be a former commissioner of works.

Coaches accompany trains for all off-track touring. In the North Island, readers’ excursions have traversed every music nonetheless available for passenger trains – north, as a long way as Whangarei; east, as a way as Gisborne and west as far as New Plymouth.

In the South Island, excursions the use of trains have run through the Southern Alps to Greymouth, and among Picton and the southernmost point of the rail gadget at Bluff.

“What I like is the mixture,” says a frequent visitor. “There are gems in all of the bits in among. The West Coast and into the lakes district further south, and the Catlins, too.”

She ought to realize. She’s carried out extra than a dozen excursions.

Peter Kitchin
Former excursion organizer and rail excursion veteran

FEEDBACK FROM FIVE PREVIOUS TRAVELLERS

“My first revel in of an organized tour, and I am more than inspired. I will be singing the praises of this tour to all I meet.”

“The excursion was extremely well organized, visited exciting and exquisite places and the group of workers was very pleasant and willing to assist if wished. I simply appreciated the know-how of areas we visited and the commentary provided as we traveled.”

“The tour guides, Philip and Dale, made the tour first rate. All are very approachable, nothing turned into any problem and they blended nicely with every person. They have been perfect for the process.”

“What a first-rate manner to journey around New Zealand without the strain of locating accommodation, transport and maximum meals. Also extremely good now not having to pressure and having everything arranged. Highly endorse.”

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“Every day become some other spotlight! Milford Sound, Taieri Gorge (I hope to try this again) the West Coast – all of it has been extremely good.”

THE ITINERARY (October 5-18)

Day 1 – Wellington (meet and greet)
Meet your courses Dale Coulter and Philip MacDonald at your hotel. We will acquire for an evening meal for group introductions and a briefing on the excursion.

Day 2 – Wellington – Picton – Blenheim – Nelson (ferry, teach and train)
After breakfast, we can board the Interislander to cruise across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton. The travel from Picton to Blenheim may be aboard the restored Passchendaele steam train wherein we will be met by our coaches for the scenic drive through to Nelson

Day three – Nelson
Our day in Nelson will include a go to to the World of Wearable Arts Museum. This visit can be paired with the Nelson Classic Car Collection. An afternoon of amusement in Nelson or a sightseeing journey will entire the day.

Day 4 – Nelson to Greymouth (instruct)
We travel from Nelson through the very scenic Buller Gorge avenue, with a lunch-prevent and go to to the coal-mining museum in Westport. The trip will keep thru to Greymouth along the rugged western Coast with a forestall at the well-known Punakaiki Reserve to discover the blow-holes and pancake rocks.

 

 

Jason B. Barker