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Dunedin



Dunedin sits on the south east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Situated in the core of an old volcano (shades of Taupo here?), the city is surrounded by rugged landscape. Igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rock deposits richly abound, a perfect holiday spot for the geology or topography enthusiast! Rugged hills, the nutrient rich plains and sheltered beaches make up what is Dunedin today.

Due to a temperate climate, good rainfall and rich topography, gardens grow in abundance. Many interesting and rare animal species are to be found here as well.

The Royal albatross, one of the largest flying birds in the world, has a wingspan of up to 3m. Visitors are able to visit the nesting colony to see these magnificent birds, with the exception of during the height of the birds mating and laying eggs season. For specific dates refer to the local tourist centre. The nesting colony of the Albatross can be found at Taiaroa Head and is the only place in the world where the birds breed on the mainland.

Unfortunately this remarkable bird only lays one egg each November. Chicks then hatch during late January and early February. The young birds then remain at home, until they leave the peninsula in late September. Often they will not return to breed until as many as six years later.

The Yellow eyed Penguin (Hoiho) is the worldís rarest of the species, and lives on the Otago Peninsula. While it is the third largest of all the penguin species, it is a very shy bird, and is now under the protection of conservation projects to ensure itís survival.

Also home to the Peninsula is New Zealandís largest population of fur seals. Amongst the thousands to be seen sunning themselves, visitors may also get a glimpse of Elephant and Leopard seals and Hookers sea lions, the Hooker being the rarest sea lion in the world.


History

Dunedin has become known as one of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere. Some of these impressive buildings date back as early as the beginning of the 19th Century. Buildings not to miss are the Dunedin Railway Station, the University of Otago clock tower, the Otago Boysí High School, First Church and Dominican Priory. Numerous walking tours are on offer to best see these historic buildings.

Dunedin is also a gardenerís paradise, offering many beautifully maintained gardens to explore Ė try the Dunedin Railway Station Gardens or the Botanic Gardens for the best examples of these.

Larnach Castle, built between the years of 1871-1876 and is worth the drive to the hills of the Peninsula. From there you are greeted with impressive views of the city and itís harbour.

Many of New Zealandís best museums are found in Dunedin. From Natural Museums, to Museums portraying the history of Otago, to collections of Maori and Pacific Island collections; all of these are available for public viewing. The Dunedin Public Art Gallery holds 16th to 19th century art from Britain and Europe; or alternatively, take a tour of the Speights Brewery Ė which takes the user through brewing history from as early as 6000BC.

For the outdoor lovers, many cruises are available out on the harbour, or further along the coast to catch glimpse of the albatross, fur seals, penguins, nesting birds, and dolphins all in their natural habitats. For the hunters and gatherers many fishing tours are available as well.

A great day out is to take the Taieri Gorge Railway. Winding itís way through the Taieri River Gorge, view the rugged and spectacular scenery; steep ravines, viaducts and tunnels clinging precariously from the cliff faces. Many gold mining relics can still be found here, with the some of the tunnels dating back as far as 1879.


Heritage

Dunedin has a very strong Scottish heritage, with the many Scottish immigrants finding the climate, geography and conditions highly suitable for agricultural and horticultural farming. Dunedin is actually the old Gaelic name for Edinburgh.

It was the settlement of the Scots that gave three very important gifts to Dunedin. The first was of education. Otago Boysí High School (1864), the University of Otago (1869), and the Otago Girlsí High School in 1871; were all founded by the Scottish settlers on the wave of riches generated by the gold rushes of the times.

Predominantly Presbyterian, the Scottish settlers were responsible for the building of many beautiful churches Ė including the architecturally significant First Church, which still stands today. The idealism of their religious practices also helped found democracy in New Zealand Ė with the first instance occurring in the 1890ís which put an end to the exploitation of labour, and re-organised a much fairer process for the distribution of surrounding land.

On the flip side of the religious coin, it is also argued that Dunedinís production of some of the countries most successful writers, poets and artists were produced in Dunedin as a direct result of rebellion against the stalwart regimes of the regionís religious practices in later generations.

The history of Dunedinís birth would not be complete without mentioning the gold rushes, which funded the building and growth of this burgeoning city. After many false claims, the first rush began in 1851, and as the news spread Dunedin soon became over-run with diggers pouring in from all over the country and Australia. By 1870, Dunedin had become New Zealandís largest city. Whilst wealth abounded in these times, so to with expansion came the inevitable rise in crime, exploitation, soaring prices and of course, sanitation problems as the city tried to cope with itís vastly increased population. With the bad came the good however, and the Dunedin of today now houses some of the finest preserved architecture in the country, became the first to develop in industrial sectors leading to the first exports of meat and dairy products back to the UK, and was at the forefront of NZ education and even political reform; all of these resulting from the rich years of the gold rushes.


For more information on the Gold Rush periods of Dunedin, please see the links below.


Did you know that the colours in the Dunedin Tartan represent the following:

The small white stripes represent the first two ships of settlers
The blue strips the sea they crossed
The green for new pastures
The gold for crops grown.
The red signifies blood ties left behind
The black sadness for loved ones missed.



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