Scott Hammond / Stuff
Cruise passengers must experience South Marlborough as the Marlborough Flyer adds a stop in Seddon to its day trips this season.
The sights and sounds of locomotive journeys return in time for returning cruise ship passengers, with the heritage steam train taking them through the Awatere Valley for the first time and showcasing ‘more of Marlborough’.
Pounamu Tourism Group managing director Paul Jackson, who operate the Marlborough Flyer service, said the addition of Seddon and the Awatere Valley to their circuit made the excursion more spectacular than before.
“We offer them a train journey that goes deeper into the heart of Marlborough and is much more enjoyable for them.
“From a rail tour perspective, we’re giving them more of Marlborough and we’re giving them a better experience,” Jackson said.
The steam train, Marlborough Flyer, makes a shakedown from Picton to Riverlands this morning. It will offer cruise ships and local passenger transport to Blenheim.
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Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas will be the return of the first cruise ship to Picton after Covid when it arrives on October 26 after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus.
From Picton, the steam train will ascend the city elevation, through the Para Wetlands, across the River Wairau to Blenheim, then on to Seddon over the Dashwood Pass.
“Unquestionably the Dashwood Pass in the Awatere Valley is majestic, it’s so beautiful, to see a sea of vineyards in the Awatere Valley with those majestic Southern Alps in the background and to cross another river.
“You also have that steep elevation that comes out of Picton, and when the engines are working really hard and there’s a lot of sound, it’s dynamic and spectacular.
“The drama of that mixed with the beauty of some of these other parts of Marlborough, which we haven’t had in the past, definitely adds more to the train journey and enhances that experience,” Jackson said.
The steam train, which is complete with 250 passengers from the Ovation of the Seas, would cross the historic Awatere River Bridge and spend an hour in Seddon.
“We are going to be welcomed with open arms with the community involved there.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for Seddon. There are a lot of wine brands that don’t have cellar doors, so they have an opportunity to show off what they’re doing,” Jackson said.
Tūpari Wines’ general manager, Olivia Doonan, was hosting a market to welcome tourists and showcase the town.
“We have live music, a petting zoo, coffee carts, we’ll do a wine tasting at the door of the Tūpari Wines cellar… It’s varied.
“We hope the classic car club will see the light of day, even though we’ve only had two weeks to put it together, so [we’re] I’m in the process of finalizing what exactly will happen, but we’re really excited to have the opportunity to work with this market.
Doonan said they will have stalls in different locations to create a “little bit of atmosphere” all over town.
“We have shops on both sides of the street from the main road, so we will try to get people to enjoy the whole area.
“We want to make Seddon a destination where people want to come.”