Friday, April 19, 2013

Great Trips – New Zealand #11

Continuing with our New Zealand adventure… Leaving Invercargill and Bluff behind, Laurie and I continued our drive along the South Island’s Scenic Southern Route toward the city of Dunedin. (The route stretches from Queenstown to Dunedin)

As was usual on this trip, the scenery didn’t disappoint us! 

This is the Nugget Point Lighthouse.  It was built back in 1870 using locally quarried stone.  In the early days the light was fueled with oil.  Today it’s fully electrified…but the original 1870 lens for the light is still in use!
Incidentally, the walk along the path in the photo to the lighthouse provides many different views of the ocean and the coastline…

I particularly liked this photo.  The play of the sea, waves, rocks and the colors just kind of works!  Nugget Point is one of the most notable landforms along the southeastern coast of the South Island of New Zealand. 

This is why they call it Nugget Point… These are the ‘nuggets’ or rocky islets just beyond the lighthouse.  The area is home to penguins, gannets, spoonbills and a breeding colony of Southern or New Zealand Fur Seals.

These are the Matai Falls… While they’re only about 33 feet high, they are just one of several beautiful waterfalls in the South Island’s ‘Catlins’ region.  The tallest waterfalls in The Catlins are the McLean Falls at about 72 feet. 
The Catlins or, as it’s sometimes called, the Catlins Coast is a rugged, sparsely populated area in the southeast corner of the South Island.  It has scenic coastal landscapes combined with dense temperate rainforests. (About 150 inches of rain falls in The Catlins each year) The highest peak in this area of about 730 square miles is 2,360 feet.  One of the area’s charms is the fact that only about 1,200 people live here…or a little more than 1.5 persons per square mile.

This is St. Paul’s Cathedral in Dunedin on the South Island.  It is the ‘mother church’ for the Anglican Diocese of Dunedin and the home church for the Bishop.  The cathedral is located near the heart of the city.  It was first planned for in 1895…but the first foundation stone wasn’t set until 1915 and it wasn’t consecrated until 1919.

This photo from Wikipedia shows how Dunedin surrounds the head of Otago Harbor.  The harbor and the hills are remnants of an extinct volcano.  This 2nd largest city on the South Island was first settled in 1848 and it’s now home for about 127,000 New Zealanders. 
The city is also the home of the University of Otago with its 21,000 students.  The university was founded in 1871 and it was the first university in New Zealand.  The town definitely had a student ‘vibe’ to it and so did the cuisine…some of the best we had during our trip.

This is New Zealand’s only ‘castle’… The Larnach Castle is located on the Otago Peninsula not far from Dunedin.  Construction started in 1871…and was completed in 1886.  William James Mudie Larnach, a wealthy merchant baron and politician built it for his 1st wife.  It took 200 workmen 3 years to build the structure and it took a group of European master craftsmen another 12 years to finish the interior. (Sounds like a Chicago highway construction project!) The ‘castle’ has 43 rooms and a ballroom.
Unfortunately, Mr. Larnach was predeceased by his 1st wife, his 2nd wife and his favorite daughter…for whom he’d built the ball room adjoining the ‘castle’.  He committed suicide in New Zealand’s Parliament Building in 1888…only one year after the death of his daughter and 2 years after completion of this impressive structure!  The castle is allegedly haunted by Mr. Larnach’s 1st wife as well as by his daughter and it’s been featured on the TV Show, “Ghost Hunters International”.

This is a view from the castle…looking down on the ballroom he added to the property as well as part of Larnach Castle’s gardens.  The gardens are only 1 of the 5 in New Zealand that have been rated as a ‘Garden of International Significance”.

The Royal Albatross Centre and Colony is also located on the Otago Peninsula at Taiaroa Head.  This is the only mainland breeding colony for any species of albatross in the Southern Hemisphere.  The population of this colony is about 140 birds.  They have successfully hatched over 500 chicks since the Centre was established in the 1930’s.  Other exotic seabirds are also resident here…including over 3,000 Red Billed Gulls.

The Southern Royal Albatross with the Northern Royal Albatross are the largest seabirds in the world.  They have a wingspan of up to 10 feet 10 inches.  These birds spend 85% of their life at sea and they travel as much as 118,000 miles each year.

Here’s one more photo of a New Zealand or Southern Fur Seal.  We found them all along the coast…especially beginning at Nugget Point and stretching back up to the Otago Peninsula.  I know that they bite…but I think that they are probably the most attractive seals we’ve ever seen…
That’s about it for this edition of our 2000 New Zealand Trip…only one or two more chapters before I complete this saga!
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by and viewing my ongoing travelogue!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Just as a coincidence before reading your post I was reading the one from my blogging friend in New Zealand. She was so happy because she said “NZ has become the 13th country in the world where gay marriage is legalized.” Your photos show that it is a beautiful country and now it is also a tolerant country. I enlarged your photos – they are stunning. What a wonderful trip you had!

  2. Dear Dave, Just beautiful photos. I bet you and Laurie have great memories of this trip. This is a wonderful idea to make a travelogue.
    The fur seals are adorable.
    Blessings, Catherine