Come with me and you'll Dunedin!

So much to see, so much to do!

We awoke, bright (well, it was dark in the cave) and early (but you can't tell, because there is no clock). Something was different...the boat wasn't moving! We had docked in Port Chalmers and a day of walking on solid land stretched in front us!!!

Now on cruise boats, you are able to pre-book all your onshore tours. If you have won Lotto or earn a lot more money than we do! They are pretty expensive, and as we learnt the hard way last cruise, you can pick up a better deal from one of the (many) tour operators parked at the dock, when you get off the ship. The cruise line will tell you that these are not reputable operators, but after you've been to Bali and Vanuatu, the New Zealand operators seem pretty professional! So we opted to do our own thing at every port.

Unfortunately, I realised after we had gone through all the security that I had left the Canon DSLR in our cabin, but I had my iPhone with me, so the photos are not all great quality.

The boat docks at Port Chalmers, which is a nice little town. It is located in the southeast of the South Island on the Otago Peninsula. As is the case with most of the ports we visited, we had to limit what we were going to see. When we go back (!) to New Zealand (probably under our own steam, maybe motorhoming it), we will have lots of things to do. But for today, we got on the shuttle bus, and headed into the city of Dunedin.


Dunedin was settled by Scottish pioneers (it's name is the Gaelic word for Edinburgh) and is the fourth largest city in New Zealand (105,000 people). It's also home to New Zealand's oldest university (Otago University) and it has that lovely feel of a "university" town - young people about, lots of lovely pubs and just that sense that learning is valued.

A nice church in downtown Dunedin

After getting some New Zealand cash, our first stop was the Otago Museum, which we walked a couple of blocks to - it didn't take very long at all to lose most of our fellow cruise passengers!

Now, as you would expect, we have been to quite a few museums in our time! But I have to say, the Otago Museum was one of the best we have ever been to and we could have easily spent the whole day there, no problem. It was world class and gold coin donation entry!!!

Before you even enter, there is a wonderful interactive activity on sound - you can whisper at one end and hear that whisper as if the person were standing next to you!

Once we dragged the kids away (I think they would have been happy there for hours!) we had to get past the foyer! Excellent coffee, gift shop with the best sciencey toys and games (and stuffed animals) and the giant moa were hard to pass up!

The moa was a large, flightless bird hunted to extinction by the Maori

Can I keep him?

We'd have to get another cabin to house these stuffed animals!

Every gallery in the museum was interesting and well-presented. We started with the Tangata Whenua Gallery, which highlights Maori culture and heritage with a great collection of taoka (treasures) and also the Pacific Culture Galleries with objects from all over Polynesia and Melanesia. I have to mention here that the Maori language has the largest collection of vowels that I have ever come across and my poor Aussie accent totally failed to capture even the most basic of Maori dialect!

Video Boy inspecting the large, ornately carved
 Waka Te Paranihi (a waka is a canoe)

The Maritime Gallery had a huge collection of ship models and nautical artefacts and a skeleton of fin whale.

The Animal Attic was a beautifully restored Victorian gallery with an amazing collection of zoological specimens from around the world - absolutely fabulous if you are studying biology or classification!

Moa thigh bone

The Southern Land, Southern People Gallery was a fabulous exhibit of both natural (mostly geological) and human history in the area. I could have spent a lot more time here!

The Permian fossils in New Zealand match up
with the fossils found on our local rock platforms!

Lots of lovely spirifia and bivalves!!!

What is it with my kids and large, stuffed animals???

More moa!

The People of the World Gallery was even really interesting - ancient Greek pottery, an Egyptian mummy and fabulous interpretive signs linking artefacts (decorative arts, ceramics, swords, costumes) with culture - we were really able to see how everyday objects reflect culture and lifestyle of the region and the time.


...and swords!

We also enjoyed the special exhibit of glass blowing...

Glass canoe paddles

But the best part for us was the interactive science gallery Discovery World (surprise, surprise). We literally could have spent hours in this part of the museum alone!!

And as if that wasn't enough, inside the Discovery World is the Tropical Rainforest Discovery Zone and Butterfly House!!!

Girl in a butterfly shirt being chased by butterflies!
Oh, and I nearly forgot the best bit! Even the toilets were educational!!!

Well, we obviously enjoyed the museum! But so much time, so little to see...wait, scrap that, reverse was time for Dunedin's version of Willy Wonka - the Cadbury World Chocolate Factory!

Nobody ever goes...and nobody ever comes out!
It was raining by this stage, and so we bustled inside the Cadbury Factory. There were no photos allowed on the tour, but we did enjoy ourselves - especially eating the liquid milk chocolate straight out of the pipe!  Something you may not know about me - my very first ever paying job was on the production line of Darrell Lea Chocolates (an Australian chocolate company). This tour was like a flashback, although they have recently spent millions automating things and now the Dunedin factory is a Centre of Excellence for marshmallow production! We can highly recommend the Perky Nanas (delicious artificial banana flavouring), the Pinkie bars and the Chocolate Fish - none of which are available in Australia.

Cacoa beans - taste like bitter, dark chocolate

The Crunchie Bar mountain!

We also popped in for a look at the Dunedin Railway Station - apparently the second most photographed building in the Southern Hemisphere (after the Sydney Opera House - hubby got an extra chocolate for knowing that on the tour).

Some of the many things we didn't do was catch the Taieri train to Taieri Gorge, look at the Larnach Castle or visit Speights time!

After that busy day we caught the shuttle bus back to the ship and enjoyed another four course meal as we set sail (so to speak) for Akaroa!


  1. What an exciting day! It all sounds like so much fun.

  2. Wow! That was one very full day! The museum looks awesome! I think I would have to avoid the chocolate factory though. The temptation might kill me. Great pictures!!!

  3. Wow! What a great whirlwind of fun (oh yeah, and learning :)

  4. Learning?? Oh yeah! We were having such a nice time we forgot we were learning stuff!!


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