“Instead of wandering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
Norwegian Jewel New Zealand Cruise Sixth Port Dunedin, Experience
Tip: Visit the Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head. It’s the site of the only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross in the world.
Our holiday has been running very smoothly, been well organised and we very much liked meeting new travelling companions. Again calms sea, we woke to little Port Chalmers, which was only 13km from central Dunedin but it feels a world away. Somewhere between working class and bohemian, Port Chalmers has a history as a port town but has long attracted Dunedin’s arty types. The main drag, George St, is home to a handful of cafes, design stores and galleries, perfect for a half days’ worth of wandering, browsing and sipping away from the city crush.
Dunedin’s Otago Peninsula is renowned for hosting the world’s only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross and various other unique species. Dunedin is also regarded as New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital. The foundations of New Zealand’s richest architectural heritage were built on the gold rushes of the 1860s, and today Victorian and Edwardian buildings can still be seen at every turn. The grandeur and rich heritage of Dunedin’s historic homes is something to be experienced. The Octagon, with its many bars and cafés, is a well-known meeting place in the city centre. Well known for its artistic flair, Dunedin is also the place to check out the local art and fashion scene.
When disembarking in Port Chalmers while on a cruise ship holiday you will quickly discover Dunedin and it surrounds have a wide range of activities and attractions on offer for cruise ship passengers. Dunedin shore excursions range from unique wildlife encounters and heritage sightseeing opportunities through to adrenaline pumping thrill rides.
“The most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”
We made the most of our time on a half-day “Highlights” small group, personal tour. We learnt about Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula with our own guide, including entry to the grounds of historic Larnach Castle.
We enjoyed the small group experience better than the big bus in Wellington, as we were shown the best of what Dunedin has to offer. Our first stop was a look around Otago University, New Zealand’s oldest university. Founded in 1871 with just 3 professors, it is now home to over 20,000 students.
Tip: Catch the Taieri Gorge Railway for a 4-hour excursion around the region. The train departs from the historic Dunedin Railway Station.
Next on the agenda was a look at Dunedin Railway Station. A photogenic architectural gem that is one of Dunedin’s ‘must-do’s’, still performs its original function and houses new ventures, such as the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.
Tip: Wander through Larnach Castle, New Zealand’s only castle. It perches on a hill overlooking the magnificent Otago Harbour.
We then went down the road to the museum for a quick look before heading to the grounds Larnach Castle, New Zealand’s only castle. Spread across 7 acres, the gardens are classified as a ‘Garden of International Significance’. We paid the small upgrade fee of $15.50nzd to enter the castle itself, and learn the interesting history of this stately home. Situated on the picturesque Otago Peninsula, Larnach Castle is one of New Zealand’s premier visitor attractions. Lovingly restored by the Barker Family, the Castle and surrounding grounds are at the heart of the Dunedin visitor experience. We didn’t go inside, but had a lovely lunch in the ballroom. Set in the beautiful grounds of Larnach Castle, the Ballroom Café offers the perfect option to sit and take stock of the historic surrounds that Larnach Castle offers.
Our guide then promptly delivered us to the Jacobean-styled, Olveston House. Built in 1907 by famed architect, Sir Ernest George on behalf of wealthy merchant, David Theomin, the grand structure was equipped with all the bells and whistles. A ‘must visit’ for lovers of art, heritage and history, Olveston is lavishly furnished with exotic artifacts, prized artworks, antique furniture, ceramics and statues Mr Theomin collected from around the world. The house was gifted to the people of Dunedin in 1966, fully furnished with the original contents, Olveston is a time capsule as little has changed inside the house since it was occupied as a family home.
Tip: The cruise ship doesn’t organize the transport from the port to town. There is plenty to see and do in Dunedin. There isn’t really a downtown due to the size of the place, it’s all just town!
Lastly we headed to “The World’s Steepest Street”, Baldwin Street. If we were feeling fit we could see how far up we could walk. Some Scenic vistas of Otago Harbour as we traverse some of the scenic roads on Otago Peninsula with amazing views over Dunedin city (and beyond) from the Signal Hill lookout, and back for a walk around Port Chalmers before getting back on the boat. The tour guide commentated from start to finish, and was funny and a joy.
Tip: Carey’s Bay Historic Hotel – For perhaps the best seafood dinner you’ve ever experienced, be sure to head to Carey’s Bay Historic Hotel in Port Chalmers (where the ships usually dock) and order the Seafood Platter. The Seafood Chowder is a close second.
Tip: Olveston House – Opened in 1967 as a museum, Olveston House is a time capsule as little has changed inside the home since it was occupied by the Olveston family between, 1906 – 1966. Fine art, furniture and artefacts from all around the world are on display depicting the life of a wealthy merchant family from the early twentieth century.
Tip: Otago Museum – A favourite with families, Otago Museum is very interactive and particularly good if you are travelling with kids. Engaging and hands on, you’ll learn about everything from Pacific cultures to maritime to animals to people of the world. Entry is free.
Tip: Emerson’s Brewery – If all you’re discovering has worked up a thirst, how about a visit to Emerson’s Brewery? For lovers of craft beer, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the brew process from the malt room, to the fermentation, bottling and, of course, tasting.
Tip: Otago Peninsula – To really see the wildlife, we recommend taking a tour on the Otago Peninsula. Fur Seals, Little Blue Penguins, Cormorants and Yellow Eyed Penguins all call this area home. You may also be lucky enough to see Sea Lions, Leopard Seals, White Faced Herons, Black Back Gulls and Oyster Catchers.
Dunedin Street Art Trail – If you only have a spare couple of hours in Dunedin, perhaps pop on your good walking shoes and take in the Walking Tour from the city centre. Dunedin has over 30 amazing murals and artworks by local and international artists throughout the city. The self-guided walk takes around 90 minutes to complete and you can pick up a map at Dunedin’s i-Site Visitor Centre.
Check Out Dunedin:
Day 9 Entertainment.
Showtime: Jonny Balance
Johnny Balance is a comedy magician that left everyone in stitches and wanting more. His act is very interactive and makes everyone a star. Great night out.
Tango Dance Class
Cruise staff Patricia untangle the Tango and makes the most passionate Latin styles accessible.
New Orleans Mardi Gras with Showband.
Soak up the sounds of the Big Easy as the Jewel Showband create their own Mardi Gras
Australia Day Rock Party With Prism
Celebrate what it means to be an Aussie as Prism kicks into a very special Australia Day Party.