One thing a day is our general rule with young ones, firstly, it takes so long to get anywhere or do anything, secondly, they really only have the attention span for one thing, and lastly, someone’s always needing a nap. If we do two things it means either a nap has been compromised or is on the go (which is often easier and better anyway).
Upon arriving in Dunedin we headed over to the Otago Peninsula where the Larnach Castle was located high above the Otago Bay on a beautiful “bella vista” (sorry for the overly used cliche) overlooking the city. It was built by a private banker and politician who committed suicide with a shotgun to the head right in parliament. He had three wives, and several children but was unfortunately without a will. Upon his death, the castle fell into many different hands and was used for various purposes from private to public, including an insane asylum before it was abandoned and in disrepair. In 1967 it was repurchased by a young family and brought back to life so the public could tour and experience the only castle in New Zealand.
We told Ry it was a real princess castle which certainly sparked her interest, although it was completely different than her past experiences (Disneyland), and we aren’t not sure she believed us. Nonetheless, she enjoyed seeing the intricate long, white dresses on display, the baby’s nursery, the garden gazebo (a place for the princess to dance), sitting on the “queen’s” throne, and climbing the steep and narrow concrete spiral stairs to the tower.
Following our self tour of the castle we stopped for a treat and a drink in the cafe, and a play in the gardens, before heading down the Otago Peninsula to extend our drive to the campsite on a “Slumber Journey”. We were hoping to see some penguins or some albatross on this long but flat, scenic winding jaunt along the coast, but instead we enjoyed the quaint little cottages, scattered sandy beaches lined with rocky outcroppings, and a brilliant view of the bay. If it weren’t for the exhausting drive that felt exceptionally longer than 16km I would have bought myself a house right then and there.
The next day we boarded a train on the Waitati seasider for a 90 minute journey along the coast. Unfortunately it was very foggy and a seaside train ride in the fog is simply just a train ride, which was just fine for the our purposes. Ry loved watching out the window, helping me to take pictures of nothing but fog and the inside of tunnels, and Zo was happy with the relaxing back and forth motion, pretending to drink dad’s coffee, and repeatedly climbing the table or escaping down the train car.
Day three we went for a delicious, yet mildly disappointing Cadbury factory tour in the afternoon, where although we enjoyed some tasty samples of liquid chocolate out of a slurpee-type machine, topped with coconut or cooke pieces, it’s possible my chocoholic induced, unrealistic expectations were set too high (maybe along the lines of Charlie and the Chocolate factory), and they sadly didn’t come to fruition. However, we learned about the chocolate making process, climbed inside the giant purple silo to the 5th floor where we watched literally one ton of chocolate pouring down from the roof into a bucket like a waterfall on the bottom level.
We went out for pizza one night at Biggie’s, and took turns on either Dunedin morning taking Ry to the farmer’s market, then a local free museum where we could colour, cut, and play while Zo was back at the camper napping near the train station. Overall Dunedin was bursting with history; the commercial buildings and residential homes, train station, shops, town hall, and many European inspired churches that made up the central core. We also drove up to Baldwin Street before leaving town for a view up the steepest residential road in the world!
Of course, the camper would never make it up, but we did watch some pedestrians struggling to make their way up (hopefully in non slip shoes), and also a van which stopped midway and screeched its tires loudly while attempting to get started again. This street is simply crazy in a place where it can get snow! Once a year there is an event where Cadbury sells 75,000 enlarged and numbered Jaffa’s (a red candy coated chocolate) for people to race them down the street with proceeds going to charity.