31 Oct and 1 Nov – Dunedin is New Zealand’s oldest city. It was settled by Maoris 400 centuries ago and in 1848 by Scottish migrants. The Celtic name for Edinburgh is Dunedin. The city also has the finest examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Dunedin Raliway Station is said to be the most photographed building in New Zealand and is also the busiest train station in the country. The train schedules proved that you can travel to almost anywhere on the South Island and even to the North Island because we later saw a special ferry in Picton that has tracks for trains to drive on.
There are 750,000 Royal Doulton porcelain tiles making up the floors in the train station. The upstairs has an art gallery with New Zealand paintings that are well worth seeing.
The First Church of Otago (Presbyterian)
We chatted with a lady running The Heritage Center inside the church and learned that many cruise ships have to cancel out of going to the Milford Sound due to high winds. She also said that even if the ships manage to go into the sound, there is rain so often that nothing can be seen. Rain on the western coast of the South Island is measured in meters instead of millimeters.
Cruise ship passengers are warmly welcomed at every port. Shop owners are notified in advance that we are arriving so they can be prepared for the extra business and the iSites position helpers all around some towns to answer questions and give advice. One tour guide told us that there were no cruise ships visiting New Zealand 5 years ago and now they see 100 a year.
We stopped into a vegetarian restaurant in the center of Dunedin for a nice lunch. The juice is beet/ginger and the pizza is made with a slightly sweetened whole grain crust, spinach, tofu, cheese etc
The Chinese garden was constructed by 35 artisans from Shanghai using entirely authentic materials imported from China. There is so much in and near Dunedin that we did not see: The steepest street in the world, Larnach Castle, a colony of one of the world’s rarest penguins, a breeding colony of the Royal Albatross and more. Actually we did see the albatross at the end of a point as our ship left the harbor but I didn’t have my camera with me.
There are many gardens too and this little one has a memorial for all the Dunedin soldiers killed starting with the Maori war through Afghanistan.
Dunedin is also referred to as the eco-capital of New Zealand. There are many eco preserves in the country that strive to return an area to the way it was before the settlers came. Prior to the settlers there were more kinds of flightless birds because they had no predators and didn’t need to fly. The settlers introduced possum, stoat, and ferrets as well as plants that have taken over in places. This also caused many kinds of vegetation to die off.
There were many more tours offered than the cruise had from iSite which set up a very large tent next to the cruise ship. It was through them that we booked a tour to the Orokonui Preserve. Only one other couple went and so we had Jean, the tour guide to ourselves.
Normally I think eels are creepy creatures but this one was very cute. Her fins looked like floppy ears and she has blue eyes and is also tame because anytime someone comes to her pond she swims right over to the edge and wags her fins. This one is 5 years old and when she is 80 she will somehow make her way to a specific island offshore to lay eggs and then return to this pond and die. She has a lonely 75 years ahead being the only living thing in the pond.
The Kaka parrot holds its food with his feet to eat.
There is 9 km’s of special fencing surrounding the preserve so that absolutely nothing can get in that is not supposed to. The mesh is small enough that not a baby mouse can get through and the wide gutter doesn’t let anything climb over. There are over 3,000 traps in the event something does.
Part of the preserve has a cloud forest and it was full of singing birds
Then it was back to Port Chalmers and we found out why workmen have been covering up the main street with small gravel and dirt. A movie is being made here. I asked one of the directors what movie it is and he said he couldn’t tell me. I also asked if he needed an extra and he said I was too young.
If you see a movie in the future with these actors you will know where it was filmed!
Many people on the ship took the Taieri Gorge train ride as an excursion. The train tracks go right up to the side of the ship. Here the train is just coming into the port as we walked back to the ship.