Dunedin – A Wee Bit of Scotland in New Zealand

Following a few days in Christchurch we continued our trek across the South Island to Dunedin.

The name of the city comes from the Gaelic name for Edinburgh, “Dùn Èideann”, and it was the destination for thousands of Scots who emigrated there in the mid 1800s.

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Instead of a town square, Dunedin has a town octagon. In the middle resides a statue of Scottish poet Robert Burns.

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A few blocks away, beautiful St. Paul’s Cathedral would fit right in back in Edinburgh.

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After seeing some of the main sights we stopped by the historic Speight’s Brewery for lunch.

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Our meal was one of the best we had in the country.

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Dunedin has a great street arts scene with some impressively large murals.

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Larnach Castle

A short scenic drive from downtown Dunedin we found New Zealand’s only castle. The castle was built in 1874 by William Larnach, a prominent businessman and politician.

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After touring some of the interior spaces we climbed a tiny spiral staircase to the rooftop. From there we had a great view of the Otago peninsula.

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View of the castle gardens from the castle.

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After touring the interior of the castle we bought some coffee and treats from the onsite cafe and enjoyed them on the front lawn. Later we walked through the gardens, where the kids enjoyed finding the “Alice in Wonderland” themed sculptures.

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Penguin Place

Our next stop on the Otago Peninsula was the Penguin Place, an organization dedicated to conserving the yellow-eyed penguin. Our tour began with an introductory talk about the penguins and the work that is being done to ensure their survival.

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At the rehabilitation center we were able to see some of the sick and injured penguins that were being cared for. The penguins stay here until they are healthy enough to be returned to the wild.

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Our final stop was a protected area where the wild penguins roost. Here we were led into a trench where we could observe the penguins without frightening them.

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We walked along the trench as quietly as possible.

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Peeking through a slit in the side of the trench, we spotted a pair of penguins!

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Leaving the trenches, we walked up to a bluff overlooking the beach. The penguins typically go out to sea during the day to catch fish before returning around dusk to rest.

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We watched several penguins returning to the beach, and also saw quite a few fur seals.

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Otago Museum

Back in the city we made a visit to the Otago Museum. The galleries included a large collection of items related to the seafaring history of the city.

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The natural history gallery was full of stuffed animals from New Zealand and beyond.

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We enjoyed the extensive gallery of Maori takora (treasures) and a collection of indigenous artworks from across the Pacific. The museum was well worth a visit, especially since most of it is free.

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Baldwin Street

On our way out of town we stopped by Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest residential street (although that claim is subject to some dispute). The severe incline of the street is supposedly the result of city planning being done in London without the benefit of topographical maps.

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Whether or not the claim is accurate, the street draws throngs of tourists (like us!) who come to pose in the middle of the road. Every now and then a local would come by in their car, revving the engine loudly (and sending tourists scurrying to the sidewalks) to build up enough speed to reach the top.

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In our next update, we complete our crossing of the South Island and pay a visit to the southernmost point!

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