On the 29th we drove down from Moereki to Dunedin which was another beautiful drive. Dunedin comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh.
On the 30th, we drove out onto the scenic Otago Peninsular to the very end, where there is an Albatross Colony… alas again New Zealand attempts eco-tourism… which means a rather untidy mess of a visitor centre and a really shite cafe run by people that should probably of remained in whatever institution they were plucked from… think 20 minutes waiting for a coffee, and all the tables outside covered in bird-shit.. yep… that nice. The closest we got to an albatross was the video in the little display area…. pretty poor all in all.. but the drive out there was gorgeous.
On the way back, we headed for Larnach Castle, New Zealand’s only castle, which considering the time it was built, back in the 1870s, was basically a rich mans folly. The Larnach story is an interesting one with the usual Victorian mix of marriage, lust, death and incest (well almost.. the son was only bonking the Step-Mother.. so not sure how that counts)… all good stuff A really interesting house, great cafe (phew!) and stunning gardens with *awesome* views over the peninsular. The castle also offers accommodation, and when we return to NZ.. we will definitely stay there.
Back to Dunedin for the evening, and off to “The Reef“, a surprisingly good little seafood restaurant, serving the best smoked salmon I’ve ever tasted.
On New Years Eve morning, we headed off to the Dunedin Settlers Museum, which was a rather split-personality kind of place, one half was as expected with displays of the early (mainly Scotish) settlers (including some Cowans.. woo!), a replica of the inside of one of the settler ships and various maori, chinese and other settler displays. The other half, was a transport museum.. sort of… with displays of the old stage-coaches, trams etc.. but also they had managed to save the original art-deco/streamlined waiting room of the old bus station.. all rather odd.. but it worked.
In the afternoon, off on another train.. this time the Taireri Gorge Railway. This line heads off from Dunedin’s stunningly over the top railway station to the arse-end of nowhere.. a former town called Pukerengi (population… 5), via a twisty route through tunnels, over bridges and wrought-iron viaducts. The route takes about 2 hours each way, and thankfully had a buffet/bar. The highlight, apart from the amazing views was the commentary which really deserves a post all of it’s own. The “Little Katie on the Jigger” story will have to follow. We are still not 100% sure if it was all a huge piss-take.. or if the guy really was being serious.
Dunedin was celebrating New Years Eve in “The Octagon” which sounds like a park.. but is really a road junction. As the rain wasstarting as our train returned to Dunedin Station, we gave it a miss.