We visited this street in Dunedin, New Zealand on my tour a few years ago. We were told the town planners didn’t visit Dunedin beforehand. They didn’t realise this would result in some very steep streets, including the world’s steepest.
Before we left Dunedin we drove to the world’s steepest street. I think we were all surprised that this street was in New Zealand. I thought the steepest street was in San Francisco. One of our group, Fernando, took it as a challenge when Clarke asked us not to attempt to walk/run up to the top. We were told that many had attempted it but none had completed the return journey in the 15 mins we were going to be there.
Fernando and a couple of his mates attempted it but Fernando was the only one who completed it. Although I don’t remember how long it took, he completed it well within the 15 mins we were there. It took its toll on him though. He didn’t feel very well for the next few hours. We were so pleased to be able to say we knew him.
Larnach Castle is New Zealand’s only castle but in reality it’s a large mansion. It is, however, a very beautiful historic house built in the mid 1800’s that has been lovingly renovated by the Barker family since the 1960’s after it fell into disrepair.
The castle was built by an Australian banker who moved to Dunedin and became wealthy by trading as a merchant. He wanted to build a magnificent home and sourced the finest materials from Europe.
We were given a guided tour who is obviously very passionate about the castle. She has been running tours for years but still loves it as much as the first tour she gave. She took us through most rooms in the castle, giving us the history and telling us ghost stories. We were in one of the smaller reception rooms and I felt like I was swaying a little bit. It felt weird until the guide started telling the story of the ghost who creates an energy and often makes people sway. OMG I’d just felt my first ghost. After that we were allowed to walk around the castle ourselves, venturing up to the room. The stairs to the roof were so narrow only one person can use them at a time. We had to yell out to make sure no one was coming down before we could go up. The view was absolutely magnificent. You can see all over Dunedin.
We were given one hour to look inside the castle and the gardens. I spent 15 mins looking at the rooms we hadn’t looked at with the tour guide then spent the rest of the time looking at the gorgeous gardens.
Each night Clarke (our tour director) would put up a notice for us to see what was happening the next day, what time we would receive our wake up call, what time we had to go to the restaurant for breakfast and what time we were leaving. This notice was one of the more involved because the next morning most of us would be going to Larnach Castle but those who weren’t had free time but they were under strict instructions to meet outside the cathedral at the appointed time.
Dinner that night was certainly looked forward to. By the time we arrived at the hotel it was nearly 7.30pm and we had been on the move since early that morning. We also hadn’t eaten any lunch. Carol and I decided we would go straight to the restaurant rather than our rooms so we joined the others. We were getting extremely sick of buffets, particularly breakfasts) so it was a pleasant surprise to find some interesting foods such as fish, seafood and a curry.
After dinner I went to the bar because I’d spotted some internet computers in a corner. I hadn’t really thought about it but it was a Saturday and my family back in Melbourne were going to the A-League soccer. It was the first time my Dad was going but the rest of my family and I are mad Melbourne Victory fans and members. After checking Facebook and catching up with a few friends via chat I joined some of the others in the bar. We had a few drinks and lots of laughs before I went up to my room. I got a strange sense of deja vu. The room was exactly the same as last night. It was then that I realised it was the same hotel chain (Kingsgate) that we had stayed in at Te Anau. I was excited to realise the Melbourne Victory game was on tv so I watched that. Unfortunately I fell asleep near the end of the game so I had to find out result the next day.
also known as the “why didn’t I read the brochure” half day tour.
On the long drive to Dunedin from Te Anau, Clarke passed the clipboard around for us to sign up for a wildlife tour that afternoon. I didn’t read the brochure that was attached that described the tour but a few others on the bus were doing it so I decided to do it as well.
In future I will ALWAYS read the brochure.
We were driven straight to the office, paid for the tour, dropped off the people who weren’t joining us then made our way to the Otago Peninsula. The hills rise very steeply (as they do all over this beautiful island) so soon we were well above sea level, driving on single-lane roads that are more suitable for small vehicles than 50 seat coaches. It was pretty scary at times, just looking down a cliff and hoping the driver didn’t stop suddenly or else we would be in big trouble. To add more fear the roads were very twisty. The views however were fantastic. The water was such a beautiful shade of blue in contrast to the dry, brown mountains. We made our way up over the top and down the other side where the countryside became more green and lush.
From there we went down to a small pier to catch a boat. That’s when I started to worry and wish I’d read the brochure. I was totally kicking myself when the captain announced we would be going one mile out into the open ocean. The boat was not big by any means. It didn’t hold many more than our 48 people. The day was nice, sunny and calm according to the captain. That didn’t stop the boat from rocking from side to side (I don’t know the technical term for this). I began to get scared when it nearly rocked over on to it’s side. I tried to focus on the commentary being given by the captain. He explained that the albatross that we could see don’t touch land for four years at a time. He also said that the multitude of birds in the water were called shags. I’d never seen a shag, didn’t even realise it was a real bird. I just kept thinking of the Aussie saying “sitting there like shags on a rock”. Of course, when I had the opportunity I took a photo of shags sitting on a rock.
Instead of heading back between the heads of the harbour we ventured over to the rocks outside the heads. We were to see some seals lazing on the sunny rocks. I’ve seen quite a few seals over the last few years and they are fast becoming a favourite animal of mine.
We finally headed back through the heads and began the hour-long ride back to the pier where the bus was waiting to take us back to our hotel. Overall I really enjoyed the cruise. I’m not normally one to do things like this with looking into them so it was fun. I still don’t like small boats on the open ocean but the sights we saw were brilliant.