For those who are too young to remember the "Crunchie Train Robbery" Ad was epic. Workers from Cadbury World manufacturing site had gained converted places as the "2011 Crunchy Gang” and were dressed in official costumes. A preacher, policewoman, old lady with a carpet bag, sheriff, cowgirls, and a couple of “Baddies” were ready for action. I was actually grateful that they were there because I was one of the few adults in costume. Trust me to be prepared to act up, even when I’m sober!
As we pulled out of the Dunedin Railway Station the “Cadbury Crunchie” song blared over the PA system and the 'Cadbury Gang' handed out goodies. Bottled water, Crunchie gift bags, plastic pistols and straw cowboy hats were given to young and old.
The Dunedin suburbs blurred into the snowy Tairie Plains and we stopped at Wingatui to pick up more passengers. Wingatui is the turn off from the main line onto Tairie Gorge private line. So I was finally able to make use of the viewing platform on the guards’ wagon behind the locomotive.
Joe, one of the train guards, swapped shunting stories with me. He was a bit shocked to talk to someone with blonde pigtails and a black cowboy hat that could "speak" rail, and he happily pointed out the best places to take a photo along the track.
With the wrought iron viaducts, hewn stone tunnels, a 103 year old station agents house, and the snow covered river valley, the photographic opportunities were endless as we climbed through the gorge.
The 'Cadbury Gang' had another surprise for us at Hindon station. A giant metal trunk of “Loot” was hidden behind some bushes near the platform. Everyone grabbed hatfuls of Crunchies and played in the snow. Let’s say I wasn’t the only one on a sugar high and some of the mothers were regretting wearing thin soled street shoes in the snow.
The journey back to Wingatui seemed twice as fast, and I took the warmer option of staying in carriage V. I was officially adopted by a local pharmacist assistant and her three girls. We chatted as we worked on our Cadbury Crunchie colouring page from the Crunchy gift bags.
A posse of bandits on horseback stormed the train at WIngatui and the Cadbury Gang had to “protect us”. Luckily, with all the plastic pistols been waved out of the carriage windows the bandits were scared off.
Hats off and Yeeee Haaaa! to the Cadbury Chocolate Carnival events team. This was an incredible journey, made all the more fantastic by the blanket of snow. Lots of parents that I talked to admitted that it was the special $42 fare that allowed them to go on the ride, and the shortened journey meant even the 'littlies' could enjoy the adventure without getting overtired.
Right now, I’ve hung up my Stetson and ’m off to the pool to swim of a few too many Crunchie bars.