NZ Trip: Dunedin

May 1, 2024
Dunedin New Zealand

DAY 13 (25 May 2023)

This morning we had breakfast at our accommodation at Te Anau followed by a quick look around town, and then we were on the road again headed to our destination for the next two nights. Buckle yourselves in – it’s a BIG post today!


We stopped at Mossburn for coffee and then Gore for lunch at Cafe Ambience. Gore is a bigger town than we expected! Along the way we saw thousands and thousands of merino sheep, in fields and up the hills like mountain goats. We also saw a few paddocks of deer just outside of Te Anau. We still see lots of that New Zealand flax lining the roads and heaps of pampas grass. There’s lots of wind breaking hedges lining paddocks too.

After 3.5 hrs of driving we arrived at our destination of St Clair. St Clair is a beachside suburb of Dunedin.

We’re staying at Majestic Mansions. Our apartment is gorgeously quirky and character filled. We have some partial sea views and are just a hop, step & a jump from the beach as well as cafe’s and restaurants.

We’re both a bit tired today so after a 3pm check in we rested until going to dinner at Salt Bar & Restaurant just around the corner. I think the Tennis Player had rib eye steak for dinner and I know that I had a risotto. It might not look the greatest but it sure did taste delicious! Big tourist day planned for tomorrow!


DAY 14 (26 May 2023)

What a day! We tried to squeeze a lot in but Dunedin is so much bigger than we anticipated. It’s a much bigger city than I had realised! We barely made a dent in what there is to see and do, however we did our best!

Lanarch Castle

We decided to head for Larnach Castle first as we’d been advised it’s best to get there early before the crowds. It was a gorgeous, picturesque drive up to Lanarch Castle!

We arrived knowing nothing about it and left with our heads full of its history and stories and quite happy to have contributed to its refurbishment and upkeep (all entry fees contribute to the ongoing restoration of Lanarch Castle). It cost us $45 each for Castle, Gardens and Grounds access (self guided).

Larnach Castle has a rather colourful history due to the dramatic lives of its original owners. Construction started in 1871 using the finest materials from around the world and took 200 men to build the exterior. The owner was William Larnach, a prominent businessman and politician, who wanted to build a lavish home for his wife Eliza.

Called “The Camp” by William, a name which is proudly displayed in mosaic tiling in the entrance hall, the building was coined a castle by local press in 1874 not long after the couple moved in. Technically, it’s not really a castle as it was never intended to defend anything nor has it ever housed royalty. Nonetheless, the power of the media prevails!

William and Eliza had 6 children, however, after Eliza died when the youngest was still a baby, William went on to marry her sister, Mary, who unfortunately died 5 years later. William’s third marriage was to a much younger woman, Constance de Bathe Brandon.

Tragedy struck the family again when William’s favourite daughter died as a young adult, leading him to send his children abroad to boarding school.

A number of financial difficulties ensued in the following years for William, which resulted in him shooting himself at Parliament. It has also been speculated this fatal action was also caused by an affair between William’s son and his wife. His family then fought over his will and estate.

The castle then had many owners in the following decades, including years that it was left vacant and vandalised.

Finally, in 1967 the Barker family bought Larnach Castle. They continue to restore and protect the building, which they are able to do through admission fees from visitors.

After looking around the castle and going up to the turret we had morning tea in the Ballroom Cafe.

In the following gallery of photos from Lanarch Castle you’ll see a sculpture in the grounds that depicts a male and female dancing. It was commissioned for the 50th anniversary ball which was held on 9 September 2017 to celebrate the valued ongoing link between Lanarch Castle and Otago University.

Portabello Otago Peninsula

Next we decided to head out to the Portabello Otago Peninsula hoping to see Albatross, Seals and/or Penguins. We saw some Albatross but none of the others. We did see some wonderful coastline and views though. We ran into a lovely couple who happened to be from Brisbane. He was keenly taking photographs of Albatross with a massive zoom lens on his camera. Next we visited Allan’s Beach which is usually covered in seals but not today! Beautiful beach though! I would have liked much longer out in this area (it’s beautiful!) but we had so much to try and see in one day so we moved on.

Allans Beach

Dunedin Railway Station

We then headed to the city centre to check out the Dunedin Railway Station which we’d heard was a must see!  We stopped in at a cafe for lunch (no memory of what cafe but think it was somewhere across the road & down a bit from the Railway Station) before heading to explore Dunedin Railway Station. It was certainly worth the visit! The stunning architecture dates back to 1906. It was designed by George Troup, in the Flemish Renaissance style and it is his most famous design. It earned Troup the nickname of “Gingerbread George”.

City of Dunedin

You can’t be in Dunedin and not check out the city so that is what we did next. We went for a walk around the city. I have to say though that I found the city difficult to adjust to after being at Te Anau and spending time in Fiordlands. I was so glad that we were staying at St Clair and not in the city centre. I’m not a city girl but I do enjoy seeing and learning about old buildings.

Baldwin Street

Next we headed to see the famous steepest street in the world – Baldwin Street. Our rental car wouldn’t have enough power to get up it so we didn’t even try. We watched another car go up it though … very, very slowly!

Dunedin New Zealand

After Baldwin Street we headed back to St Clair where we are staying, parked in our parking spot and went and had a coffee along the beachfront. I can’t remember what we did for dinner but since it had been a big day I think we probably grabbed something to have back at the apartment.

Tomorrow we’re off again. It’s just short of 4 hours from Dunedin to Lake Tekapo where we’ll be staying for two nights, but we’ll be stopping in at a few places along the way so the trip will take a little longer. Keep watch for the next NZ trip post to discover where we stop in at along the way and of course to see where we stay and what we got up to in Lake Tekapo!

Ciao for now,

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  • Reply Sue from Women Living Well After 50 May 1, 2024 at 6:42 am

    You have captured Dunedin and surrounds beautifully, Min and brought back some lovely memories from our first trip to N.Z. I’m tempted to pop back over for a short revisit. We are currently in Stanthorpe and it is the first time I’ve visited. It’s so lovely and not far from Brisbane. Thank you for hosting #WWWhimsy and have a lovely week.

    • Reply Min May 1, 2024 at 9:22 am

      Hi Sue, thank you! Your little break away in Stanthorpe looks wonderful – so serene and picturesque. I love that area. In fact we’re going back there for a few nights in July for a little winter getaway and I can’t wait! xo

  • Reply Joanne Tracey May 1, 2024 at 7:50 am

    Fabulous photos! I’ve never quite made it to Dunedin (we were booked to go when Covid hit and never rebooked) so it’s been lovely to see it through your lens.

    • Reply Min May 1, 2024 at 9:23 am

      Hi Jo – thank you! I’m shocked to read that I’ve been somewhere you haven’t LOL – especially in New Zealand! I’m sure you’ll get there one day and it might even show up in one of your books – you never know! xo

  • Reply Denyse Whelan May 1, 2024 at 9:09 am

    WOW. I am so glad you got to do this trip and to publish it all. So many memories made, and with all that is happening for you right now, what a joy it is to see what you did to enjoy a wonderful place. Thank you for the link up too, Denyse

    • Reply Min May 1, 2024 at 9:25 am

      Hi Denyse, I was very lucky to have managed to have this trip with all that’s been going on in my life over recent years. THREE whole weeks! It was heaven and I loved every minute of it. I’m enjoying reliving it through doing these posts but most especially capturing the trip for all time on the blog. Hopefully they’ll be helpful to someone else one day who is planning a trip to NZ too. xo

      • Reply Denyse Whelan May 1, 2024 at 3:20 pm

        That’s the beauty of sharing it here, as it remains a memory for a long time. And I too am glad you got those fabulous 3 weeks in!

  • Reply Thistles and Kiwis May 1, 2024 at 2:57 pm

    For me, coming from Edinburgh, Dunedin is a fascinating place to visit. The name, Dunedin, comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, plus lots of the street names in the city centre are the same and even the Water of Leith runs through it. It is an interesting city.

    • Reply Min May 2, 2024 at 1:43 pm

      Hi Barbara, yes I knew about the Scottish connections that Dunedin had but I didn’t know what you’ve just shared and that is so interesting to now know! I can understand why the place would fascinate you! We really didn’t have long enough there to truly explore more fully. We only had one full day but we did cover quite a bit considering!

  • Reply Debbie Harris May 1, 2024 at 5:13 pm

    This was a great recap of your visit Min. We went to Dunedin after doing the Otago rail Trail a few years ago and loved the area. We did look at the castle but didn’t go in. We also went to the steepest street and along the beaches. Such lovely memories! Thanks for having us for the linkup.

    • Reply Min May 2, 2024 at 9:45 am

      Hi Deb – well you’ve been *virtually* through Lanarch Castle now! lol It was a bit of a shock arriving to the busy’ness of a city after being in the fiordlands but glad to have been there and loved the experience! xo

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee May 1, 2024 at 5:26 pm

    I really know nothing about NZ. It seems so well preserved in your photos. I guess I don’t notice our old buildings because I’m used to them. Really lovely pics. I also don’t know they had the steepest street. I thought that was in San Fransisco. But I think that might be the curviest? Anyway, you had such a lovely trip!! Every post is stunning. I’ll be back to comment in the morning on the linky

    • Reply Min May 2, 2024 at 9:48 am

      Hi Lydia – we’ve only seen the south island of NZ so far but wow I loved it very much – it’s just beautiful. I think we’re all the same in that we notice things when we visit other places but rarely notice all the *things* in our home town. A friend of mine and I have often said that we should be tourists in our own city as there probably so much we don’t know and haven’t seen. Must do that one day … and yes Baldwin Street is the steepest street in the world in the Guiness Book of World Records. So glad you’ve enjoyed the post. Thank you! xo

  • Reply Jennifer Jones May 1, 2024 at 7:25 pm

    This is great Min. I love delving into the history of an area when we travel. I love that you included the history of Lanarch Castle. Like Lydia, I was surprised that the steepest street was there. Thanks for such an interesting post and for sharing your fantastic photos,.

    • Reply Min May 2, 2024 at 9:49 am

      Hi Jennifer, I love delving into the history and hearing the stories too. It makes everything come alive and so much more interesting. It’s a shame to walk through and by places and never know a thing about them. Seems a few have learnt a new thing from this post – i.e. the steepest street in the world! lol Thanks Jennifer! xo

  • Reply Joanne May 2, 2024 at 3:52 am

    You have such beautiful photos! The history behind that castle is quite sad. I am loving all those ocean views.

    • Reply Min May 2, 2024 at 9:50 am

      Thanks Joanne! Yes it’s a very sad story about William Lanarch isn’t it? The views from the castle were magnificent! xo

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