A Travellerspoint blog

Dunedin to Christchurch


sunny 19 °C
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So very sadly we come to the last day of our tour before we all go our separate ways again. The drive from Dunedin takes us along State Highway 1 all the way to Christchurch, a five hour plus journey. We pass through Palmerstone Moeraki and Taranui before arriving at the beautiful town of Oamaru. Many limestone building are seen in the town.

Oamar is the largest town in North Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand, is the main town in the Waitaki District. It is 80 kilometres south of Timaru and 120 kilometres north of Dunedin, on the Pacific coast, and State Highway 1 and the railway Main South Line connect it to both. With a population of 13,850 Oamaru is the 28th largest urban area in New Zealand, and the third largest in Otago behind Dunedin and Queenstown.

Heading north we stop at Ashburton for lunch before reaching our final destination of Christchurch once again staying at The George Hotel. It is time to say goodbye to our Tour Captain, Chris Hannah who has been brilliant throughout the Tour. Not only has he been totally professional and an excellent driver but full of amazing facts about the country he calls home but with a great sense of humour too. We say a huge thank you to him for making our holiday so special and memorable.

Our last meal this evening gives us time to say our fond farewells to new friendships made with people from many different parts of the world. We have all enjoyed the most amazing experiences from seeing bottle nosed dolphins to landing on Cook Mountain in a helicopter and so many other incredible memories besides. I hope in reading this blog and enjoying the photos you have been able to share in the wonderful diversity and beauty of this beautiful country of New Zealand.

Posted by Keithviner 02:46 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Larnach Castle Dunedin


sunny 19 °C
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Today we discovered New Zealand’s only Castle, built 1871 by William Larnach, merchant baron and politician, for his first wife Eliza. It took more than 200 workmen three years to build the Castle shell and master European craftsmen spent a further 12 years embellishing the interior. Larnach spared no expense on his dream home, which features the finest materials from around the world.

The Castle is still privately owned and cared for by the Barker family who purchased it as their home in 1967. Decades have been spent on the Castle's restoration, with the family having restored empty buildings from ruin and assembled a large collection of original New Zealand period furniture and antiques. This living collection showcases the craftsmanship and spirt of New Zealand.
Open to the public throughout, this conservation project has been funded through admission fees. The family has always been committed to opening their home and sharing this significant period of Dunedin and New Zealand's history.

The story of the Larnach Family however is both scandalous and tragic ......

William Lanach's first wife Eliza Guise, had six children - Donald, Douglas, Kate, Colleen, Alice and Gladys. Eliza died at the age of 38 when Gladys was still a baby. Larnach then married Eliza's half sister Mary Alleyne. They were married for 5 years when sadly Mary also died at the age of 38. Larnach then married a much younger lady, Constance de Bathe Brandon.

Larnach was struck by tragedy when his favourite daughter Kate died in her 20s. Five of the children were sent to England for their education. This meant long sea voyages and a lot of time away from the Castle and family.

After Larnach's suicide in 1898 the family was further torn apart by legal battles over Larnach's property as he died intestate. The family then sold the Castle in 1906. It fell into dereliction until the Barker family bought in 1967 and lovingly restored the castle and its historic gardens which has been a life's work for the Barker family. We also enjoyed a delicious tea in the Ballroom and a walk in the beautiful gardens with incredible views

The afternoon we took one of the world's great train trips from Dunedin Railway Station on the Taieri Gorge Railway. Travelling west of Dunedin this spectacular train journey gave us views over Dunedin city , Taieri Plain and the Taieri River gorge you can only see by train.

The river gorge is dramatic with dark peaty pools, white water rapids, sheer cliffs, towering viaducts and ten tunnels. I hope you enjoy the many photos taken from the train?

The four hour return journey from Dunedin to Pukerangi certain gave us some spectacular scenery to enjoy on the penultimate day of out tour and another memorable experience to take home with us........

Posted by Keithviner 01:53 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Te Anau to Dunedin


semi-overcast 18 °C
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Today we travelled from Te Anau via Gore to Dunedin, a four and a half hour journey. Whilst stopping in Gore for a coffee break I saw an old Morris Minor Shooting Break in green with only 21,000 on the clock and in immaculate condition Rev Jim one for you! We travelled around the city of Dunedin taking in the sights including, The Bank of NewZealand, Consultancy House, Dunedin Prison, The First Church of Otago, The Law Courts, the Old National Bank, Otago Boys High School and The Otago Museum which was fascination and had some great exhibits (see pics )

Having checked into our hotel we visited Olveston House, a prestigious historic home for a guided tour which was wonderful and our guide who was excellent even knew the family and lived nearby as a child. I even got to play the Steinway Grand Piano in the drawing room which was a great honour.

Olveston was built for Dunedin businessman, collector and philanthropist David Theomin, his wife Marie and their two children Edward and Dorothy.

Designed by acclaimed English architect Sir Ernest George, Olveston was built as a family home furnished with fine art, furniture and artefacts purchased from all around the world.

Intended for future generations of Theomin’s to enjoy, this was not to be the case as both the Theomin children died without heirs. Surviving the death of her father, mother and elder brother, Miss Dorothy Theomin lived at Olveston until her death in 1966, when it was discovered the house and the original contents were gifted to the City of Dunedin.

Opened as a historic house museum in 1967, Olveston is a time capsule as little has changed inside the house since it was occupied as a family home between 1906 to 1966.

Olveston is an authentic and original historic home depicting the life of a wealthy merchant family in the early part of the twentieth century. It is a wonderful place to visit

Posted by Keithviner 21:04 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Doubtful Sound to Te Anau


semi-overcast 15 °C
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We woke aboard the Fiordland Navigator in the Doubtful Sound before heading back to Deep Cove for the trip back to Manapouri. Today the weather was wet and overcast but as the annual rainfall is about 900inches is is not unusual but we saw a great rainbow. Before we returned we had a wonderful period of absolute silence in Doubtful Sound with the engines and generations on the ship turned off and everyone still to contemplate our incredible surroundings for 5 minutes..... It was a wonderful experience............

Returning to Manapouri we drove the short distance to Te Anau to board the catamaran Liminosa for the 25 minutes ride to Cavern House to see the Glowworm Caves. Only 12,000 years old, in geographical standards the caves are very young, still being carved out by the force of the water that flows through them. The result is a twisted network of limestone passages filled with Sculptured rock, whirlpools and a roaring underwater waterfall.

Deep inside the caves beyond the noise of the water we were taken by small boat into a silent hidden grotto inhabited by hundreds of glow worms, unique from to New Zealand. In the subterranean darkness they produce a glittering display that is extraordinary.

Posted by Keithviner 00:22 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Doubtful Sound


overcast 16 °C
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Today we left Queenstown to travel via Te Anau to Manapouri and a cruise across this glacial lake to Wilmott Pass Manapouri is the place New Zealander's first recognised the importance the greater environment has for the country as a whole. It is now the largest hydroelectric power station in New Zealand 176 metres below lake level. The turbines provide an average annual output of 4800 GW. Per hour with up to 510 cubic metres of water per second surging through the pipes and down the tunnel into Doubtful Sound. The Wilmott Pass road was New Zealand's most expensive road and took two years to climb up and over the 671 metres high Pass to Doutful Sound. It is 16km long and now allows visitors to access this incredible location and see amazing moss gardens, towering waterfalls and simply incredible scenic vistas. We were fortunate enough to experience the Doubtful Sound, named Doubtful Harbour by Captain James Cook in 1770 because he feared he would not be able to sail the Endeavour back out, he resisted entering the inlet and instead confined round the island. Our ship the Fiordland Navigator is about the same size as Endeavour but a little better equipped!

With little or no soil on the mountains, trees interlock their roots together to cling to the sheer rock wall, relying on moss and lichen for nutrients This, coupled with large amounts of rain and snow delivering up to seven metres worth of water from the heavens makes this one of the wettest places on earth and often causes 'tree Avalanches' a common occurrence. After a landslide lichen, moss and other shrubs quickly cover the dirt and rock This lays the groundwork for the regeneration of the forest and the renewal of life through the land.

We were lucky enough to see some New Zealand fur seals basking on the rocks and bottle nosed dolphins leaping through the air.

An unforgettable experience and now we get to sleep on board over night and I wonder what the morning brings?.....

Posted by Keithviner 15:36 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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