he was a steam engine y'know
So where have we been since we left the wonderful city of Christchurch? Well we continued along SH1 until we got to Timaru. We only stayed there for one night and just walked around the town centre which had nothing of particular interest to see. The one thing you are meant to see if you visit Timaru is Caroline Bay - which we only read after leaving the place but to be honest, we’ve seen that many bays and beaches that we could quite happily live without seeing this one.
The next day, we drove on to Oamaru, which was a similar size to Timarau. Oamaru used to be known as the most attractive town in New Zealand - according to the Rough Guide, it was very busy at the end of the C19th and many buildings were built in white limestone. We had a look around and there is a Victorian section of the town, just next to the current town centre. Some of the buildings are very grand and you can see the name of the former owners and trade, written in faded paint above. There’s also a railway line right next to the back of the last
row of buildings - not a used one but an old one used to move the goods stored in the old warehouses. It’s filled in with tarmac now but good to imagine what it would have been like in it’s heyday. On these old rails, there are two rusty old heaps which are the remains of the steam engines that worked along the track. After Paul had a go on a (stationery) penny farthing, we got back in the van and continued on towards Dunedin.
Along the way, we had to stop by the sea and pay a visit to the famous Moeraki boulders. These are huge spheres of rock that are scattered about the beach. Some of them have disintegrated and look like some giant 3D puzzle waiting for the pieces to be put back together. Others look like the individual sections have been glued together by orange resin of some kind. The large ones are approximately 5 feet in diameter and weigh tonnes. We didn’t stay long as there was a constant stream of visitors so took the customary photo’s and then headed on to Dunedin.
Dunedin is Gaelic for Edinburgh and is called “Edinburgh of
the south”. To me, however, it is the chocolate town. The reason being? I’ll say one word - Cadbury. Yes, there is a Cadbury factory here in New Zealand! Naturally, the next day, we made a bee line for the place and went on a tour. I haven’t been to Cadbury World in Birmingham (which I soon plan to rectify when I get home) so can’t compare the two but I’d have liked to seen a bit more “chocolate on the conveyor belt” action. However, we got free chocolate bars as we walked round, which made amends and then at the end, you finish in the shop where there are loads of things you can buy for a fraction of the normal price! So we stocked up on NZ chocolate that we hadn’t seen before over in the UK. With a bulging bag of chocolate, we promptly walked round the corner and found the other chocolate shop that we’d seen on the internet! Now this was my idea of sightseeing! Called “Guilty by Confection”, they made loads of chocolate goodies, all on trays in the glass cabinet. We purchased some chilli chocolate and the most rich and chocolatey cake slices
Paul on a Penny Farthing
note the calm expression on his face...
we’d ever eaten and then thought we better get our minds off chocolate so had a walk around the town. Dunedin has got a really nice atmosphere to it - there is a university so lots of students but they don’t seem to have a “Yay, we’ve just escaped mum and dad so will act complete and utter tw*ts and get ratted every night” mentality. In fact we saw a lot of them out on runs, plugged into their ipods. Hmmm - better ration the chocolate.
After our chocolate day (which when we got back to the van in the evening, we made great inroads into our purchased stash), we went back into town and headed to the train station. We’d seen a train journey through the nearby Taieri Gorge which we thought we’d see. Sadly it was a rainy, murky day, but we thought that at least we’d be dry and might be able to see some scenery. We were wrong - we saw a few things - huge river rushing round the base of rocky hills, some soggy fields with accompanying sheep/lamas/cattle, mist but that was about it. I’m sure it’s much better on a sunny day
(or if you’re a mad train enthusiast) but on the way home, it was a fight to keep awake… The 3.5km walk in the wind, rain and dark back to the campsite soon woke us up though but at least I had that lovely chocolate to look forward to back in the van - chocolate - it makes everything better! (what a slogan! I should write adverts)
The next day, we left Dunedin and did some serious driving. Our destination? Arrowtown. Well it was Queenstown really but that was a bloomin’ long drive so we stayed in Arrowtown. It’s a lovely little place - an old gold mining town and has a really old fashioned main street, where all the shops are. When we arrived, it was another murky, cold and drizzly day which felt like minus10 degrees so we headed straight to the nearest er saloon/bar thing and had a late lunch in front of a blissful open fire. Several daydreams of hot baths, central heating and radiators later, Paul prised me off the settee and we went to the campsite.
The next day was bright but cold so we headed to the Chinese settlement, just next
to the main street. In the late C19th, many Chinese immigrants came over to mine in the hope of making lots of money and some of these came to Arrowtown. They made themselves tiny little one- roomed houses in an area close to the centre. Only a couple are left (these have been restored) and the foundations of some others but just going inside them makes you wonder how on earth they lived like that. After looking round these, we went back to the main street to have a proper look round and discovered another chocolate shop! Patagonia chocolates made lovely slices of things in milk, white and dark chocolate as well as lovely creamy hot chocolates.(www.Patagonia chocolates.com). This is beginning to feel like a chocolate pilgrimmage of New Zealand! Anyone interested if I set up a tour??
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