Yesterday we took a bus to the airport and picked up our hired car; went back to Christchurch for our luggage and started off to Dunedin. Jan and I shared driving so I drove on the left side of the road. This was my first time in years. We stopped a few times for tea and snacks.
When we reached Dunedin it was already pretty late so we headed straight for our place on Otago Peninsula. The water along the peninsula is beautiful.
We have a cute little room above the garage. Marty and Jenifer are our hosts.
After having a quick bite to eat we headed off down to the end of the peninsula. so I could take the tour to see the Blue Penguins. The Blue Penguin or Korora is the smallest of all penguins and weighs just over 1 kg. It spends most of the year at sea, but at breeding time it comes ashore at night to nest or roost in burrows, crevices and even under buildings. Blue Penguin nests have been found up to 1 km inland and 300 m above sea level.
At 8:45 about 60 of us walked down to the viewing deck, stood in the rain, and waited for a raft of penguins to come in from the sea.
They actually do look like a raft as they swim into the shore. Then the walk up the beach into the cliff below us to find their nests. I took many photos, but all of them were blurry. So I downloaded these from the web.
It was so much fun to watch them scramble up the rocks together. I had a great time, but was soaked when it was over. Also, my camera got so damp that I was having problems with it again. Darn.
Marty always hangs up the flags showing the country of his guests. This morning when we got up I saw the Australian and U.S flags on the post outside our house.
In spite of it being a cloudy, foggy, rainy day, we had a great time. First we went to the Larnach Castle. It is New Zealand’s only Castle, built 1871 by William Larnach, merchant baron and politician, for his beloved 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. The family restored empty buildings from ruin and assembled a large collection of original New Zealand period furniture and antiques. The living collection showcases the craftsmanship and spirit of New Zealand.
It was a fabulous experience. The auto and video on the iPod that we carried around as we toured the castle was very informative and interesting. We not only learned about each and every room in the castle, but also the fascinating stories about the Larch family history.
The Barker family has always been committed to opening their home and sharing this significant period of Dunedin and New Zealand’s history. Unlike other places I have toured where I could only view rooms over a rope, we were allowed to go into each and every room of the castle.
An interesting fact is that the Larnarch family powered the gas chandeliers from a methane plant where manure from the cowshed was combined with sewage from 3 privies. The gas was conveyed to the castle by means of a foot pump. Here is one of the chandeliers.
This chandelier still has the gas fixtures attached to it.
I loved the fireplaces. I only took photographs of 5 of them.
The castle was not set up for guests to stay when the visited. William Larnach actually called it, “The Camp” and the entryway had this floor.
The staircase to the 2nd and 3rd floors was wonderful.
Here is a view going down.
These 27 stone stairs led to the tower. This is a view of some of them going down.
There is just no way for me to adequately describe the experience at the castle. I just looked through my photos and they just don’t do it justice.
After going through the castle, we visited the gardens. They were stupendous. I just took a few photos of some sculptures, benches, and plants. Mrs. Barker actually still comes back to the castle to work in the garden from time to time.
I can only say that it is a must see on Otago Peninsula. You can even stay in a room in the old stables which would include breakfast and your entry fee into the castle for a reasonable amount of money.
Jan had tea and i ate a great snack lunch at the restaurant in old ballroom (a separate building).
We visited a couple of galleries. Then we took a drive on the back roads to the other side of the peninsula. Despite the cloudy day, I really enjoyed the views and even saw some birds.
Rabbits kept running across the road in front of the car. It was so much fun to watch them, but I sure had to be careful not to hit one of them. They are a real problems here on the peninsula.
The road was very narrow. Only a few cars went by us. I kept stopping the car to take photos.
You can see how close our road came to the water.
The house at the bottom of this hill would be an incredible place to stay near the water.
This Cormorant (Snag) was very wet.
This Pukeko ran across the road in front of us and into the field.
Just a family of ducks.
I was driving so slowly – not just because the roads required slow driving – but because I didn’t want the drive to end.
I probably drove Jan a bit crazy with the photo taking. I had to get one more of the trees on the rock from the opposite direction.
If there is ever a chance for me to get back to New Zealand, I think I could spend a week on the Otago Peninsula.