Dunedin – Day 1

Arriving in Dunedin and finding our accommodation, a pleasant house in the suburbs with a great outlook, we decided to eat in. Provisions had been bought en route and so a leisurely meal was had looking out over the valley below the house.

The next day saw us head into the city centre and the famous Octagon, an eight sided ‘square’, the central location of the city. At the moment the city is trialling making the Octagon a pedestrian precinct and there is a variety of interesting seating also being trailed in the area. The more comfortable options (poofs, lounge chairs, bean bags) were being put to good use! It seemed to us that turning this area into a pedestrian precinct was a win, win idea.

However, one of the retailers we spoke to said it had cut their business by 50% as the tourists in buses were now being dropped in four different locations around the city, when they used to be dropped in the Octagon itself, and many tourists were no longer making it to the stores in this area.

We did get a bit carried away with the shopping here as one of the merino shops had a good sale going! The sweaters, cardigans, ponchos etc were a bit hard to resist, especially as it was on 13°C in Dunedin this day! And this is summer!

The Octagon is overlooked by both the Anglian Cathedral and Robert Burns.

The Cathedral was not finished until about 20 years ago when a new Apse was added, using the same local stone, but in a completely modern design.  Robert Burns is part of the Scottish heritage of Dunedin, being settled by Scots who named the city after the old name for Edinburgh.

Down from the Octagon is the railway station, built in 1903-6 with blue stone and mosaic floors and stained glass windows.

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Very photogenic. Once an important transport location, the station is now the starting point for two tourist scenic train trips: Taieri gorge and the Seasider.

Next door is the Toitu´ Otago Settlers Museum, taking us on a journey through the development of Dunedin from Maori times, through the gold rush era as New Zealand’s biggest city and on to the 1950s and 1960s (with too much on display that we could recognise!).

We were not finished yet, two more highlights to go: Baldwin Street and Olveston House.  Baldwin Street’s claim to fame is as ‘the world’s steepest residential street’ with a gradient of 19o .

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The photos flattens the picture out – it was quite steep, even going a little way up made the clutch smell!

Olveston is a house built in 1913 and lived in by one family until gifted to the city by the last descendent in 1966. The house was built by a wealthy businessman, David Theomin, who took advantage of many modern concepts when building the house: central heating, flushing toilets, overhead showers and motor vehicles.  He also travelled extensively so there are many paintings and decorative items from around the world and from that period on display. After the father and mother died (1923 and 1930s) the unmarried daughter continued to live in the house.  The house was originally run with nine staff but eventually Dorothy lived there with only day help. Little or no changes were made to the house in the 40 years of her solo occupancy. The original refrigerator is still there along the fuel stove and a working butlers call system.  When left to the city (along with a good trust fund) she requested that the house be kept ‘as is’ and the city has honoured this wish with the result that the house is a time capsule and provides an outstanding example of houses of that period unsullied by modern additions and ‘improvements’.

Sorry no photos inside so a few off the internet!

Outside in the (glassed in and heated) carport is the owners original 1921 Fiat 510 tourer, now restored after been found in a barn!

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Dinner that night was in a suburban restaurant recommended on Culture Trip. We decided, rather than pick somewhere in town, to try a restaurant were the locals eat.  It was great with an interesting and  innovative menu and delicious food.

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