Tour of South Island – Days 12 and 13
Friday 18th February
We said goodbye to Lyndon and continued through the beautiful Catlins countryside towards Dunedin. We were driving along the road and came upon a sign ‘Welcome to Waihola, No doctor, No hospital, One cemetery, Slow down!’ The kiwis are wonderfully candid.
We arrived in Dunedin at lunchtime. We parked the car and walked into the town. It is said that Dunedin is the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian heritage city in the southern hemisphere and you will feel like you have stepped back in time. It is supposed to be the Edinburgh of New Zealand. We were mildly disappointed when we arrived, there are indeed some beautiful buildings in the city in between the glass and concrete towers but it isn’t Edinburgh. The one thing it did have in common however was the temperature, which was cold!
It’s home to one of the largest Universities in New Zealand and had a nice atmosphere with lots of street cafes around the Octagon, which is dominated by the statue of Robert Burns and the Anglican St Paul’s cathedral. Dunedin is the home of the Cadbury factory for New Zealand so before lunch we visited the ‘i’ site and booked tickets for the Cadbury factory visit and 2 nights in a local campsite – big mistake, more about that later. On the outside Cadburys looked as it was, a factory, but inside the foyer there were copious displays of every chocolate bar I knew and more plus the wonderful smell of chocolate!
We were shown into a video room and given a plastic bag with a chocolate bar in it plus a hygienic hair cap, which, as it’s a working factory, we were asked to put on. Bill had to have a special one for beards. We were invited to eat the chocolate bar while watching the video but save the little bag. A lovely young lady showed us around the factory wearing purple dungarees with pockets bulging with chocolate bars.
As she showed us around she was asking questions and giving away chocolate for the correct answers or for any excuse, like anyone wearing purple, or at certain points on the tour. As you can imagine I became very knowledgeable on any subject she asked questions about and ended up with quite a goody bag, almost as many as the children! It was a very interesting tour and we learnt lots of facts. One part of the factory is busy for 6 months of the year making Easter eggs, the other 6 months it isn’t used. They make enough eggs for the kiwis to have on average 9 each, that included the little crème eggs but it’s still a lot per person. Cadbury was also the official chocolate at the Queens coronation and they were permitted to retain the royal colour of purple as their corporate colour.
At the end of the tour we were taken into the tall purple chimney. Was it full of chocolate? Almost. We went inside and lined up around a huge vat that, after a count of one, two, three, filled with liquid chocolate. Why? Just for fun. At the end of the tour we visited the shop and stocked up.
We went to find the campsite recommended by the ‘i’site. It was on the edge of town but not very nice, we wouldn’t have chosen it ourselves. It was very noisy and crowded but we found a spot and pitched the tent.
The next day was wet and cold so we decided to visit the Otago museum. Founded in 1868 it features a good natural history section, a maritime exhibition and Maori and Pacific island sections. We spent a couple of hours looking around the exhibits. We spent the afternoon on the Otago peninsular and intended to visit New Zealand’s only castle with its beautiful gardens but with the low cloud we couldn’t even see it. We continued onto the Albatross Centre right out on the head. It’s the world’s only mainland colony for giant royal albatrosses. It had a very interesting visitor centre. After our drive we went back to the campsite. As it was Saturday it seemed that everyone from the local low cost housing had decided to camp out that weekend. We got back to find a tent really close to us on both sides, there wasn’t even room to park the car. These people weren’t there to enjoy Dunedin they were there to get drunk and make a lot of noise. It was 3am before they shut up.