The brochure we were given says, “Dunedin is New Zealand’s first city, constituted in 1865, and it is indeed a city of firsts. It has New Zealand’s first university, botanic garden, daily newspaper, co-op dairy factory and skyscraper; the tallest tree; the first girls’ high school in the southern hemisphere; New Zealand’s oldest farm buildings and working brewery; and the world’s steepest street and only mainland albatross colony. The Māori name is Otepoti, ‘place beyond which one cannot go’, where waka (canoes) could travel no further and were put ashore.” (Your Guide to Taieri Gorge)
Before the passengers left the ship, this customs official and his contraband-sniffing beagle gave the hold a once over.
There was no long bus ride. We walked off the ship and boarded the Taieri Gorge Railway. Our friends Harold and Martha were on the same tour with us and we toasted the day with mimosas (champagne and orange juice). We travelled 58 km (36 miles) from Dunedin to Pukerangi where the engine was moved to the back of the train for the return journey to Dunedin. Elevation gain for the trip was 254 metres (833′) and we went through 12 tunnels and across the Wingatui Viaduct; 197 metres (646+ feet) long and 47 m (154′) above Mullocky Stream. It is one of the largest wrought iron structures in the southern hemisphere.
The train would take you all the way back to the ship at Port Chalmers but we got off in Dunedin. The ship had free shuttles running from Dunedin to Port Chalmers so we had a ride back whenever we wanted.
Construction of the terminal building at Dunedin was begun in June 1904 and completed three years later. The beautiful Edwardian-style building is affectionately called “Gingerbread George.” (It was designed by architect George Troup.) There are almost 750,000 custom-made Minton tiles on the floor.
We walked from the station through “Thieves Alley”, a popular open-air street market. At the end of Thieves Alley is St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral. There is a bird-blessed statue of Scottish poet Robbie Burns.It wasn’t too far to walk back to the ship’s shuttle stop; which, very conveniently was across the street from the Cadbury factory! Immediately inside the front door you were greeted with this mountain of foil-wrapped Cadbury chocolates.
The gift shop inside Cadbury’s was absolutely packed with people; the majority of whom were ship’s crew. They all held shopping baskets filled to overflowing with chocolate goodies. They were stocking up on gifts for their families. Some of them spent a lot of money that day.
We made a few purchases (one must have chocolate after all) and re-crossed the road to get the next shuttle back to the ship. Sail-away was 5 pm and we watched the shore slip by before going for dinner.We had one more stop in New Zealand. The next day the ship anchored off the coast of Stewart Island, which sits at the southern tip of the South Island.