The trip from Te Anau to Dunedin took us over the Canterbury plains and New Zealand’s rich pastoral country. It’s not a long drive, with a brief stop for coffee somewhere, and we arrived in Dunedin around lunch time.
Dunedin is a pretty little town where you’re either going up or you’re coming down. It’s probably the most Scottishest town outside Scotland and it boasts some magnificent architecture. Linda took us on a short city orientation tour which didn’t include the Guinness Book of Records steepest street in the world (Baldwin St). Apparently the street layout was designed in London with no consideration for the topography. Otherwise they might have considered an arrangement like Lombard Street in San Francisco, which has a series of switch backs.
When Linda dropped us off Peter and I popped in at the railway station. It’s quite common to see ornate railway stations dating back to Victorian times and this one fits the mould. The tiles in the building are impressive.
From there, we wandered up to the centre of town, designed as an octagon the same as Edinburgh. Something was going on in the park there, a local version of Highland Games, with caber tossing and carrying of heavy stones and fun activities like the playing of the pipes, and porridge eating competitions. It seemed it was St Andrew’s Day, a reason for the Duneedinites to party. For our gourmet lunch Peter and I bought a bucket of chips from a van. We came across two fellow travellers. David had a bucket of chips and the hot dog that Margaret thought she’d ordered ended up being a battered sausage with tomato sauce on the end. (Here in Queensland they’re called Dagwood dogs.)
In the course of our perambulations we checked in at the Scottish shop and found that almost all the goods on offer were made in China. We also stopped at a New Zealand tourist information shop, along with a lot of people from a cruise ship currently in port. Once again, so many of the souvenirs were ‘designed in New Zealand, made in China’. It’s not much different in Australia, I suppose, but I do hope it changes.
Peter went off to the Speights Brewery tour, where he learnt a lot about beer making and had a sip or two on the way.
I would have liked to go on the Otago Peninsula wildlife tour but that cruise ship had snapped up all the places, so I booked into the hotel. It had been the central post office, now converted into studio apartments with a kitchenette and laundry facilities. It was without a doubt the best accommodation on the tour.
Unfortunately, one of our group tested postive to covid 19 and had to stay in isolation at the hotel while we carried on. We all felt very sorry for her. Peter and I caught covid on a trip to France earlier in the year, which put a serious dampener on our holiday.
The following morning we visited Larnach Castle on the Otago Peninsula, where we would be taken on a guided tour of the house before a high tea in the ballroom. Or at least, everybody else would be. Peter and I, and Brian, had already been there, done that. The house has a truly fascinating history and I recorded my observations in Dunedin – Edinburgh of the South.
We set off to admire the magnificent English country garden which had been well past its best at our last visit. The owners have added a touch of whimsy, with many allusions to Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass scattered around, too many to show here but including the red queen, the king of spades, Alice and the flamingo playing croquet, the white rabbit, and the Cheshire cat. The laburnum walk was a picture, the kitchen garden was gorgeous, and the views across the water were magnificent.
After that, we went to the property’s function hall for High Tea before setting off for Aoraki (Mt Cook).
By the way, if you’ve happened upon this page by accident and you’d like to read more about the tour, go to the tour page where you’ll find the rest of our adventures.