Exploring Dunedin and South Island

Lets move on to South Island, shall we? As I mentioned before I joined my half brother, conductor father and his Auckland Youth Orchestra on a South Island tour. It was an amazing adventure going through the most scenic places. Even though we had a very tight schedule, we managed to see a very different side of New Zealand. Seventy percent of New Zealanders (aka Kiwis) live on the more urban North Island. But the South Island is full of places to explore. Renting a camper van and driving around may just be the most authentic way to experience the South Island and it’s definitely on our to do list for the summer.

First stop was Dunedin. We only had two days here, so I was quite sad I couldn’t see the famous beaches there. So what to do and see in Dunedin?

For an early breakfast head to Capers cafe which is renowned for its famous Gourmet Pancakes, and being Dunedin’s iconic breakfast restaurant, proudly serving New Zealand’s biggest & best coffee. This was my first day of quitting sugar and a gourmet sugar pancake was a no-go for me and dad, but for my 17-year old brother it was an absolute treat. My cravings went up the roof that morning and it was my first day! Damn you brother! 🙂 My breakfast was still very yummy; bacon, eggs, tomatoes filled with pesto.

The Octagon. The city centre – it is shaped like an Octagon instead of the standard square. This part of town is very active and lots of businesses strive to be near it.

I mentioned that my brother is 17, so he is deciding on a University. Dunedin is quite perfect for crazy party students, so the Otago University was a must see for us. It has some great old buildings to wander about and see, when Uni’s in its a good place to sit, people watch and take it all in, some good food/cafes/bars are nearby too. At night this place goes “loco”, drunk youngsters wearing only T-shirts and skirts in the middle of a really cold winter! I guess I7m getting old.

Tunnel beach – The story goes that crazy old Cargill had a steep tunnel cut through the stone cliff, so his daughter could go to the beach. Some stories say she later drowned, but it’s a lovely beach all the same, and the tunnel is very spooky. You need to walk over farmland to get there, so access is banned during lambing. See the visitor’s centre in the Octagon for further information.

Wander the Botanic Gardens, feed the ducks and visit the Atriums – my favourite feathered friends are the cheeky Kaka’s, I could spend hours watching these magnificent creatures.

Larnach Castle. Billed as “the only castle” in New Zealand, it’s very pretty but technically only a manor house and there is another (ruined, but being restored) building in the same predicament called Cargill’s Castle in the southern suburbs of Dunedin. Lanarch Castle has a rich and interesting history.

Last stop is beer!  Speights Brewery, The brewery has been a Dunedin landmark since its founding in 1876. The guided tour takes you through the Speight’s brewery, sharing the heritage and culture of beer, from the Babylonians to today. The tour’s finale is a 25 minute beer tasting.

When you head off further south, join the Southern Scenic Route, a must-do of the South Island that follows the wild coast down to Invercargill and then north-west to Manapouri and Te Anau.