New Zealands Scotland
Trip Start Jan 19, 2008
19Trip End Mar 01, 2008
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Where I stayed
After a good lunch we set out hoping to find the turn off to the Moeraki Boulders, which we did just as it started to rain. They are quite famous in this region and we were told they are a must to see. They are huge spherical stones that are scattered over the sandy beaches, but they are not like ordinary round boulders that have been shaped by rivers and pounding seas. These boulders are classed as septarian concretions, and were formed in ancient sea floor sediments. They were created by a process similar to the formation of oyster pearls, where layers of material cover a central nucleus or core. For the oyster, this core is an irritating grain of sand. For the boulders, it was a fossil shell, bone fragment, or piece of wood. Lime minerals in the sea accumulated on the core over time, and the concretion grew into perfectly spherical shapes up to three metres in diameter. From the car park the boulders are a good kilometre down the beach so there we were, tramping through the muddy sand, soaking wet and battling the cold wind blowing off the sea. However we think the walk was worth it and were glad we took the trouble to see them.
It was necessary to stop at Palmerston to fill up with petrol so that we would reach Dunedin. The approach to Dunedin was through pretty hills many of which were covered in green grass confirming that this region has seen more rain than further north. Cattle were grazing contentedly despite it being cold and rainy. We found our caravan park and booked in for three nights, unpacked and prepared our evening meal.
We woke to brilliant sunshine and decided we would take a ride around the Otago Peninsular to take in the sights. First we would have to have some breakfast so the eggs, bacon and mushrooms were dispatched to the frying pan and cooked while the toast was being prepared. Coffee was also on the menu and it wasn't long before we were sitting at the table enjoying our meal. After cleaning up the dishes it was into the car and off to the first stop, Larnarch Castle which is the only castle in New Zealand. William Larnarch had the castle built during the years between 1873 and 1887 for his wife Eliza and their six children. He had moved to Dunedin from Australia during the gold rush to be the manager of the Bank of Otago around 1867. He committed suicide in the New Zealand Parliament Buildings in 1898. The property changed owners frequently until finally bought in 1967 by the Barker family who set about restoring Larnach Castle to its former glory. The Castle today attracts many visitors who come to enjoy the castle itself and the extensive gardens. After a tour around the castle and a good walk in the grounds we had a drink in the restaurant before leaving to resume our little tour.
We enjoyed the narrow country roads and the wonderful scenery and were even stopped by a flock of sheep crossing the road accompanied by a farmer and his two sons. We soon arrived at Taiaroa Head, the headland of the peninsular overlooking the mouth of Otago Harbour. The cape is home to a lighthouse, built in 1864, and a colony of over 100 Northern Royal Albatross which established itself in 1919, the only such colony on an inhabited mainland. These huge birds can have a wingspan of three metres and weigh up to 8kg. There is also the Royal Albatross Centre where educational tours are offered but we did not take a tour as we thought them too expensive. There is a very nice restaurant on site where we enjoyed a reasonably priced lunch of Cod and salad while dark clouds rolled in and rain began to fall The rain stopped and we then drove slowly back to Dunedin passing through the settlements of Portobello and Broad Bay. We arrived back at the caravan park at 5pm. After a snack and a glass of wine we turned in for the night looking forward to our last day in this great place.
After breakfast we went to town and parked the car on Stuart Street just beyond St Pauls Cathedral and walked down to the Octagon to take in the sights of the city. First we came across the statue of Robert Burns, the renowned Scottish Poet, and then walked around the Octagen which was surrounded by cafes and restaurants. The impressive Town Hall which houses the visitors centre is right next door to the cathedral. We ventured further down Stuart Street passing the Law Courts Hotel where we noticed a board advertising a roast lunch for $9.50. We took notice of this and made a point of` returning when lunch time came around and enjoyed a very nice roast lamb with roast potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, and green vegetables accompanied by mint sauce and a very nice gravy. But, before this we wanted to visit the Railway Station where we stood and listened to a young girl busking with her bagpipes, the Cadbury Factory and the Scottish Shop where Margaret wanted to buy some Tartan socks. After Lunch we went back to the car and took a short drive up North road to Baldwin Street, said to be the steepest residential street in the world. After walking up this road we met Dave who said that he runs the road every day to keep fit. Dave was very interesting and offered to take us up to the communication towers that would give us a great 360 degree view of the area. True to his word the views were fantastic up there and we enjoyed an hour or so taking it all in. Dave also recommended that we take a drive down the opposite side of Otago Harbour to Aramoana where there was a good walk along the mole where seals are usually found. So we dropped Dave off back at Baldwin Street and headed for Aramoana. Again he was correct and we saw quite a few seals. Margaret was very wary about getting too close to them but we did manage to get a photo of her pretty close to one of them! The wind was still strong and it became quite cold so we went back to Port Chalmers and bought some fish and chips which we took up to the lookout above the Port to eat. From there we could see a cruise ship anchored and piles of cut wood waiting to be loaded. It was now getting late in the day so we returned to our little cabin for the night.