Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Dunedin - Edinburgh of the South

Saturday 15/9
Got up and sorted situation with room (they had put me in a room temporarily for the first night, as the person who took the booking hadn't written me in). I then went and sorted out breakfast and then sorted out my sightseeing in Dunedin, and the bus to Christchurch on Monday. My watch seems to have defaulted back to 12am 1/1/2000 - probably needs new battery. From the i-Site I went to today's sight- the Taieri railway, on the way to the train station I Saw Martin Tasker (broadcaster) and Buck Shelford (former All Black captain) within a minute of each other.
The Taieri gorge train trip was awesome - great views, and informative. Only downside was all the noisy kids in my carriage (makes me question my desire to have kids soon, but then I'm only wanting 2, and then I'm tying it off...) but the nice conductor guy allowed me and another young couple respite for the 1st half of the journey by allowing us to sit in the other part of the carriage (on the return journey those seats were taken).

After arriving back at the train station there was someone from the tour company there to meet me, and he dropped me back at my hostel. I hadn't really had lunch, so I went in pursuit of dinner on my way to the pub to watch the All Blacks play South Africa. I settled on lamb biranyi for $12. I went to the closest pub, an Irish pub - it was full inside, but it had an outside area with a screen but had to put up with annoying smokers. Bring on 2020 when NZ will be smokefree.

Sunday 16/9
Got up and was picked up from my hostel by the same tour company, and they took me out to Larnach castle. I had feared that it would be a glorified house, and in some ways I guess it was, but it was an interesting house/"castle" all the same - I enjoyed it, far more than I had enjoyed Buckingham Palace, and almost as much as I enjoyed Neuschwanstein castle. I don't know what it was, perhaps it appealed to the history I have been getting into with my family history research, or perhaps it was that for an hour or so I felt like I was back in England or Europe, minus all the B.S.

Anyhow, once we'd done Larnach castle, the driver was dropping one of the couples off at the train station (so they could go do the Taieri gorge trip), so I hopped out there too, and went and checked out the NZ Sporting Hall of Fame, which was housed in the upstairs of the train station. It was kind of interesting, spotted the odd name of sporting heroes from the time of my childhood - wasn't so much contemporary stuff naturally, as they have to have been retired for a certain amount of time, however of course, Mark Todd seems to come in and out of retirement every Olympics, and he was in there.
Just down the road was the Chinese gardens, so I had a quick look in there as well. Apparently "The Dunedin Chinese Garden is the only authentic Chinese Garden in New Zealand. It is one of only a handful outside China." according to the Dunedin council's website. I know Hamilton gardens has a Chinese garden, but certainly not of that size, from memory I believe it has a wall, and a tree... Anyhow, on first look it might seem weird to have a Chinese garden in Dunedin, a "Scotch stronghold" (Dunedin is gaellic for Edinburgh, and a whole lot of Scots came there - and hence why Otago Uni has the cross of St Andrew in its coat of arms, and the Super 15 team is the Highlanders...) but on second thoughts, a lot of Chinese came out for the Otago gold rush, and ended up staying and forming a lot of Dunedin businesses. On an aside note, recently I heard someone saying something interesting - apparently a key ingredient to assimilation is children, going to school with children from other races, however, in the case of the Chinese, back in the day, there was a poll tax and Alien laws, which prevented men from bringing over their wives and kids, and so the Chinese have missed out on several generations of assimilation for that reason.
A little later in the day I caught up with Laura, and her boyfriend Kriton, friends from my time at The Listening Company. Afterwards they dropped me off at the Forsyth Barr stadium - I wanted to have a look, as it is New Zealand's only covered in stadium.

Monday 17/9
I got up nice and early, and headed off. I wanted to check out a book I had come across mentioned in an another book, that I had discovered the Otago University had - basically it was a book of all the Brands used by run-holders in Canterbury - which of course my 3xGreat Grandfather's brother, Joseph Pearson was one. I had enough time to go and have a look, so I did, and took a photo of the relevant page, the brands of Joseph Pearson weren't anything special, one was simply "SP". I have no desire to get a tattoo, but admittedly for a fleeting moment had toyed with the idea if the brand was particularly cool. It wasn't, so there goes that hard decision.

From there I went and dropped off my big pack at the bus station, and went around the corner to CadburyWorld, where I had booked a 10am tour. The tour was OK, got a decent amount of free chocolate out of it, but wasn't particularly interesting. I was surprised however at how people-intensive it still was to make/package the chocolate.
After that I went and hopped on my bus to Christchurch.

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