Dunedin, its 5000 miles from Singapore and 9000 miles from New York. Yes, New Zealand’s South island is a long way from the rest of the world but it is the distance that helps make the city of Dunedin so special. Distance and the promise of new beginnings is what drew two shiploads of Scottish settlers to the South island’s Otago region in 1848. The wild shores, the fern filled valleys and the ever changing skies spoke to the hardy Scotts just as they had to the Maoris who settled down in the Otago peninsula centuries before. The industrious Scotts made their mark here all over New Zealand but nowhere is the Caledonian spirit more alive than in Dunedin. Set at the head of the Otago harbor, the city center is shaped by the Octagon, an eight sided plaza that is a tribute to the Scottish sense of order. Right at the Octagon’s heart sits a contemplative statue of Robert Burns, the acclaimed Scottish poet whose nephew happened to be one the city’s founding fathers. While all around rise some of the city’s most important buildings such as the Townhall, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Dunedin’s art gallery. Dunedin spills out all its bluestone beauty from the Stuart Street. Wander down this street to New Zealand’s most photographed building, the Dunedin Railway Station.
In the early 1900s when Dunedin was the nation’s commercial capital, the station served over 100 trains a day. Today it serves as the departure point for scenic adventures along Otago coast and into the rugged interiors and yet its grand interiors and mosaic still sweep the visitors back to the great age of rail. Just up the tracks, venture back even further at the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. Gaze up at the faces of Otago’s stoic pioneers in the portrait room where dreams, hopes and trials drift back electronically across the mists of the time. Just behind the museum, the Dunedin Chinese garden quietly celebrates the contribution the Chinese settlers have made to the region, particularly during the 1860s Gold Rush.
Across town at the Otago museum, discover the complete history of the Southern land from the present day back to the legendary Moa and beyond. Just a walk from the museum, step into the Olveston house which was once the family home of a prosperous merchant and arts patron. Filled with exotic arts and everyday objects, this 35-room Edwardian time-capsule is a fascinating into Dunedin’s glory days. Retracing the centuries of history can be a thirsty work, so why not combine a little learning with leisure at the Speight’s Brewery which has been serving up the pride of the South since 1876? The brewery sits on top of a deep underground spring. So even if you don’t fancy a cold one, you can still drink some pure spring water for free. If it is too early for a beer then go and follow the scent of the roasting coffee beans in Dunedin’s many cafes.
Dunedin is the home to New Zealand’s first university where students still keep their creative juices bubbling and coming up with something new each day from its innovative dining, live music scene and street art cultures. When it is time for a walk for lunch, then stroll down to Baldwin Street which according to Guinness Book of records is the steepest in the world. Explore the woodland paths and the floral displays of the Dunedin’s botanical garden and enjoy the fine views across the Northern suburbs. Just a ten minutes’ drive south from the city center is St. Clair beach, a popular hangout during the whole summertime for all the generations of the Dunedinites and for those who are crazy enough to go get into the water adventurously. For centuries this place has been a hope for new beginnings and a place to escape from the constraints of the past. Today, more than ever we need places that allow us to feel our breath and let the wind flow freely over our faces, playing with our hairs to make them unruly. Life is all about this and Dunedin gives it all without complaint. Visit Dunedin and feel the rest of the things all by yourself. Let it whisper things to you.
About Author: Passionate about traveling and then penning down the experiences, Rajesh didn’t have to leave any sort of corporate job or anything as he immediately started working for Indian Eagle as a traveler. It has been more than a year and he has not thought about taking a break from this. He rather enjoys it. Travel through his articles to know more about his world.