Places Along the Line
The Taieri Gorge Railway passes by numerous points of interest.
Wingatui (34m above sea level)
Construction of the railway began at Wingatui in June 1879. From Wingatui Junction the Otago Central Railway heads north-west across the Taieri Plains. There are panoramic views of the plain as the line climbs to Salisbury.
North Taieri (4.4 km from Wingatui, 59m)
Originally known as "North Taieri Tanks" this was an early site for watering steam locomotives. In 1998 a crossing loop was built to allow trains to pass each other.
Salisbury (10.4 km from Wingatui, 148m)
Salisbury Tunnel (437m) is the longest on the line. There are soda springs near the tunnel mouth. The Salisbury Estate was originally owned by Donald Reid, whose name remains in the mercantile firm of Reid Farmers. The line now follows Mullock Gully to the Taieri River.
Wingatui Viaduct (12.7 km from Wingatui)
This viaduct, 197m long and 47m above Mullock Stream, is the largest structure on the line. It is still the largest wrought iron structure in New Zealand.
The viaduct under construction. Spans are being jacked into position.
Parera (16.3 km from Wingatui, 54m)
This was formerly a crossing station which closed in 1967 but the crossing loop was reinstated in 1991. The railway house is now a holiday home. Parera is the Maori name for the grey duck. The railway continues to follow the Taieri River for the next 27 km.
Mount Allan (21.1 km from Wingatui, 59m)
This station formerly served a sheep run which had no road access until 1970. After the homestead was ruined by the 1980 flood, the run was sold to Tasman Forestry and planted in pine trees.
Little Mount Allan (23.5 km from Wingatui, 64m)
Steam trains stopped at the Wingatui end of the curved viaduct to take water from the big tanks there.
Christmas Creek (25.3 km from Wingatui, 67m)
One of the curved viaducts on the line. This station served two large sheep runs, Lamb Hill and Silver Peaks. A miner discovered gold in the creek on Christmas Day, 1863.
Hindon (26.8 km from Wingatui, 71m)
This is still a crossing station. There were refreshment rooms here until 1949 until they burnt down. The first section of the Otago Central Railway was officially opened as far as Hindon in October 1889, 10 years after construction began at Wingatui.
Station and refreshment room staff, 1908
Deep Stream (30.9 km from Wingatui, 95m)
In earlier times passengers got off the train here to enjoy a day picnicking by the river or climbing in the hills. It is still a popular stop for passengers wishing to walk the viaduct. From here the line begins to climb higher above the river, eventually emerging from the Gorge near Pukerangi.
Passengers waiting for the train home, Christmas holidays, 1941.
Flat Stream (36.7 km from Wingatui, 191m)
On the slopes above are a number of stone chimneys and wild gooseberries, marking the site of a construction workers' camp. This is worth a visit. Ahead are the Notches, where the line is carried across four deep gulches.
The Reefs (42.1 km from Wingatui, 248m)
A passenger drop-off and pick-up was established here in 1906 to serve the Barewood Gold Mines, 2 km to the south.
Pukerangi (45 km from Wingatui, 250m)
The name means "Hills of Heaven". The line turns away from the Taieri River here but meets it again near the Sutton Creek road and rail bridge 7 km north. Ahead is the Strath Taieri Plain, bounded to the west by the Rock and Pillar range. The shorter version of the Taieri Gorge Railway trip returns to Dunedin from here.
Sutton (57.1 km from Wingatui, 190m)
Lying at the edge of the Strath Taieri Plain the station building here is a much photographed landmark.
Middlemarch (63.8 km from Wingatui, 201m)
"March" is an old word meaning boundary, frontier or border and this town is the largest settlement on the Strath Taieri Plain. The line was opened to here in 1891 and what was a busy through-station for a century became the new terminus of the railway when the line beyond was closed in 1990. With its station and goods shed intact it is a popular summer destination for Friday and Sunday Taieri Gorge Limited trains as well as "specials" for barbecue and barn dances trips.
Middlemarch station, February 1911. The mixed train is arriving from Dunedin.