With our Dunedin friends Colin and Merilyn, we spent a good part of Saturday playing tourists in their fair city. First up was a visit to the weekly market at the imposing Dunedin Railway Station. “I’m after a whitebait fritter”, I told them excitedly. After all, last time we were here, the whitebait fritters were being cooked on the hot plate, slapped between a couple of pieces of buttered bread, sold to the customers and happily eaten with gusto. While I was looking for my fritter, the band was playing Christmas Carols to the market crowds. I went away empty handed - there was not a single whitebait, in a fritter or otherwise, to be seen in the market.
Christmas Carols at the Market
So we took ourselves off to look through the station building.The rather grand Railway Station was built in 1906, built in “Flemish Renaissance-style” of white Oamaru limestone facings on black basalt rock. It is such a beautiful and ornate building it is no wonder that architect George Troup was given the nickname of Gingerbread George.
Dunedin Railway Station
The decoration inside was just as wonderful. The booking hall features a mosaic floor of almost 750,000 tiles of Royal Doulton porcelain. It is all simply stunning.
Robin, Colin and Merilyn inside the station
Our hosts directed up the long, windy drive up Signal Hill to get a view over the city. At the top was a monument to the New Zealand Centennial of 1940, a large structure including two large bronze figures representing "History" and "The Thread of Life" designed by F. W. Sturrock and F. W. Staub. Although commissioned for the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the monument was not constructed until the 1950s.
Otago Centennial Memorial
As promised, the views from the top were amazing, with the city and harbour set out before us.
View from Signal Hill
Baldwin Street is known as the “World’s Steepest Street”, and signs warned that it is not suitable for campervans, or caravans, for that matter. So it was just as well that our van had been left safely back in camp. We had been to Dunedin several times, but so far had never been to check out Baldwin Street. Some energetic souls were walking briskly up the street, and one young lad had almost reached the top of the street on his pogo stick. Young Harry had set himself the challenge to pogo stick up the world's steepest street to raise money for Ronald McDonald House, while his little sister Darcie was undergoing treatment at Christchurch Hospital.
Baldwin Street, Dunedin
Then we took the long slow drive around to Aramoana Beach. A few wetsuit clad surfers were frolicking in the waves at the bay, and a group of red billed gulls were enjoying the bracing sea breezes.
Aramoana Beach and a bevy of red billed gulls
A terrible tragedy took place in the sleepy little settlement of Aramoana on 13th November 1990. One of the town's residents, in a deranged state, had decided to take his fury out on the people around him. With his rifle he ran riot through the village, shooting helpless individuals whom fate had put in his path. By the time he was shot some 34 hours later, 12 people would have been executed, and became known as the Aramoana Massacre. This awful event is marked by a peaceful memorial, tucked away along a meandering path and sheltered from the cool sea breezes by surrounding trees. A place to come and reflect on the terrible events which took place that fateful day.
Traveling back from Aramoana we stopped at Deborah Bay to read about the Torpedo Boat and the perceived Russian submarine threat to the area. In 1884 a Torpedo Boat Corps was established at Deborah Bay on the Otago Harbour, in response to the 'Russian War Scare.' The corps was equipped with a Thorneycroft torpedo boat, No. 169 Taiaroa. The Torpedo Boat Depot consisted of the mole (an area of reclaimed ground that stuck out into the Bay), several store sheds and a house. The function of the boats was to carry a bomb on the extended 11m spar, hole the enemy ship, and rush away at maximum speed, 17 knots. Just as well this was never put into practice, as it would seem to be a suicide mission for the crew. Who would have thought that all this happened here so long ago?
After all this tiki-touring around we went back to our friends home for a reviving coffee and a slice of Christmas Cake - we had a lovely day exploring Dunedin.
Merilyn and me