Dunedin in the South Island of New Zealand calls itself the Edinburgh of the South, but I’m not sure I see it.
Here’s some of the things we enjoyed:
Speight’s Brewery Tour
Founded in 1876, Speight’s is justly proud of its local history and fine beers. Worth going for lunch in the alehouse first, then catch the tour. The tour is fun and enthusiastic, and yes, you get to taste the product! Actually, you could pretty much have as much as you like 🙂
Royal Albatross Centre
At the tip of the Otago Peninsular is The Royal Albatross Centre. We wondered if the centre was royal, or the birds… turns out there are several species of albatross, and the ones that nest here are the Royal Albatross! They are huge, with a wingspan of around 3 metres. There are about 32 pairs of Royal albatross that nest here at the Centre. The nesting cycle is 2 years, so after brooding one egg, a pair will take a year off and circumnavigate the South Pole. You get to learn all about the life cycle of the albatross, then you can visit the observatory, and depending on the season, you may get to see birds. Of course they’re wild birds, so nothing is guaranteed! We were lucky, it was nesting season, there were several nests, of which 2 or 3 were visible from the observatory. There are also huge numbers of seagulls, other seabirds, plus seals and sealions.
Cadbury’s Factory Tour
Mandatory for chocoholics! Fun tour with a very enthusiastic guide, who bribes noisy children with chocolate!
There’s a bunch of fun street art around the centre of Dunedin, and I enjoyed walking around trying to find as much as possible.
[this section written by Chris while Danila was eating chocolate!]
Orokonui Ecosanctuary is a biodiversity project just outside Dunedin in the South Island, where many species of indigenous plants and animals are protected from introduced predators. The organisers built a predator control fence around about 300 hectares of Coastal Otago cloud forest, rigorously removed non-indigenous plants and animals, and reintroduced many rare and endangered species, including kiwi, takahe, tuatara, skinks, rifleman, and eels, plus a whole bunch of trees, shrubs and flowering plants.
The day I was there, I opted for the self guided walk, and while there was a coach load of tourists plus 2 gangs of school kids in the visitor centre, I met no one at all on my 2 hour hike around the reserve. Perhaps because of the lack of activity on the trails, I came across a takahe taking a bath in a pond before spending about 15 minutes preening itself, which was great to watch. Heard and saw lots of other bird life, including rifemen, tui, bellbird and silvereye in the lush cloud forest, plus some skinks in a well designed enclosure, but no kiwis, as they tend to stay hidden during the day, and while I found the eel pond, the water was too murky to see any eels. But I did see black swans in the estuary on the way there and back. Plus a Royal Albatross flew right over me on the way back!
Along with a good café and visitor centre, the ecosanctuary lived up to its on-line description, and was reasonably priced at NZ $16.
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum
The Toitū Otago Settlers Museum is worth a visit. It traces the history of settlement in the Otago Peninsular, from the several waves of Māori, to the whalers and sealers and early European settlers, through to more recent immigrants. There are some fascinating oral histories, as well as a huge collection of artifacts through the ages. And entry to the museum is free! However, I do recommend a donation, because they deserve it, and also because there’s a fun animated machine to take your donation!
Dunedin Railway Station: according to the guide at Cadbury’s, this is the 11th most photographed building in the world!
Catch a train here from Pukerangi, like we did:
While you’re in the area, consider a cycling tour on the Otago Central Rail Trail.
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