This was one of the best days of our trip, I have been holding back the urge to jump over and share the detailed happenings of this super adventurous day with you all since so long. This is going to be an extensive post with lots and lots of amazing images from medieval castle to stunning beaches and awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, spectacular (insert all such adjectives here) landscapes with a bonus video and pictures of closer to nature species. So you better bookmark it for later read in case you are in a hurry (just a suggestion). Don’t miss out the video I have attached at the end of post which has some terrific scenes from our day’s escapades.
Dunedin is a treat to the eyes! Also our accommodation was an archaic site from 1860, let me know if you want to have a look around that place as well, I can share the video of it. So this particular day was one ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ (this is an english word, trust me); extraordinarily wonderful to put in simple terms. It was all unplanned and everything was coming as a surprise for us, a pleasant one!
Larnach Castle & Grounds
We set out to visit ‘New Zealand’s ONLY castle‘ called The Larnach Castle which was built in 1871. It was later adopted (read purchased) by the Barker family in 1967, who are now responsible for the restoration and conservation of this beautiful historic site. Sharing the magnificent pictures of the whole property, look out for the captions below each image for more details.
I did a live tour of the baronial house on my Facebook page as well, embedding the session below.
The castle is surrounded by lush green gardens. There is a beautiful, well maintained native plant trail in the gardens area that will surely attract you if you are a nature person. We took a stroll around the gardens and loved the serenely peaceful setting. Check out for yourself.
Some interesting facts about the castle:
- The location of the baronial house was chosen by William Larnach and one of his sons when they went for a horse ride along the top of the Otago Peninsula to choose the best site for their home.
- The construction of castle began in 1871; it too 200 men and 3 years to build the castle shell.
- Master European craftsmen spent a further 12 years embellishing the interiors.
- It is built in Gothic Revival architecture and holds the crown of New Zealand’s only castle.
- It was initially built for William Larnach’s beloved first wife Eliza but the possessions of Constance (third wife of Willaim Larnach) are displayed in the boudoir.
- Materials from all over the world were used – marble from Italy, slate from Wales, floor tiles from England, glass from Venice and France. Many New Zealand native woods were also used – kauri ceilings, rimu floors and honeysuckle panelling.
- William Larnach took his own life in the New Zealand Parliament Buildings in 1898.
- 50 years have been passed since the restoration and innovation work has begun. And it is still in progress.
- The Gardens of castle are home to 17 species of plants that are found nowhere else.
- The melodic call you hear as you take a stroll along the gardens is from a native bellbird.
- The castle is now one of the top tourist attractions of Dunedin.
After touring the majestic castle and it’s grounds we headed towards an unknown destination. Since, nothing was planned we just drove around the breathtaking peninsula until we arrived at some residential area. We stopped by a grocery store, bought some bottles of milk since it was the only option available for lunch. Yes, there are no petrol pumps on the peninsula as well so go well prepared if you are planning to. We grabbed a map from the salesgirl and decided to check out Allan’s Beach.
It was an isolated beach, literally at the end of road and on top of that there was no proper access to the beach. We crossed some fences of private properties in order to reach the shore and woahh there was a huge fur seal lying in the only passageway to the beach. We tried to bypass Mr. or Mrs. Seal by attempting to go through the long bushes but it was too difficult to manage E in one hand and keep an eye on the seal from the corners while crossing those wilderness. We gave up the idea and waited for sometime in hopes that the lazy creature will go towards the sea on its own but it didn’t. So we turned back and left the place without even touching the waves 😦 . The beach must be bee-you-tea-full mannn, I can tell that from the limited views we got to witness during that encounter. Have a look at the pictures and decide for yourself 🙂
Royal Albatross Centre & Reserve
We then turned the car and moved towards Pilots Beach, another end of the peninsula where the subject centre is located. I didn’t know that Albatross is the name of a bird until we entered the place.
Upon enquiring we got to know that they have built this reserve to protect the endangered Royal Albatross colony. They conduct tours to the colony where you can see the eggs, babies, male and female albatrosses. We were also told that you can catch albatrosses soaring in the sky from outside but only if the wind is blowing at its top knots. It was not too windy outside when we entered the reserve but still we were not quite interested in spending money on a birds’ tour. So we decided against it.
Small penguins also emerge there at the beach around sunset but we were not keen about those as well since we already had experienced that earlier at Philip island in Australia. We enjoyed a cup of coffee at the cafe and resolved to take a walk along the sea shore before heading back towards Dunedin.
As we stepped out of the reserve, the wind was blowing very fast to our utter astonishment. As a result of which we were able to observe Albatrosses flying high in the sky. It was a treat to spot them, every other bird was getting unstable in their flight but the albatrosses were kissing the sky like a boss!
From here we proceeded towards the basin of beach with the thoughts that we’ll just take a quick walk and will then drive back to the city. But we spent more than an hour in that section, you know why? We encountered some more lazy bums i.e. fur seals relaxing and napping over the rocks as soon as we walked down the stairs. And that was not it, we saw 2 fur seals fighting with each other as we advanced a little more. That was a sight to see, the day was going super awesome until now and their combat made it more adventurous and enthralling. Ahhmazzing experience! 😀
Check out the pictures below and video at the end to catch some of the glimpses of that deadly war 😉
I made HI run towards the car to bring my power bank so that I could conduct a live session of the crazy atmosphere. Attaching the session below:
Finally we got settled in the car and progressed towards city centre with smiles on our faces. E also had a great time spotting and watching those seals. We had zero expectations from the day’s excursions but everything we came across was just purrfect. It was one of those days when every piece of puzzle falls in its place on it’s own!
But the day can’t end without having food, right? We were starving by the time we entered the city. We initially thought to try the shawarma from the same place we had turkish tea the day before and while searching for the cafe we bumped into this Indian restaurant named Little India, located inside the Octagon which serve halal food. Our day was made, What else can we ask for! The scrumptious desi style food was the perfect ending to our super awesome day.
And this is the video I have made out of the so-less video clips we recorded during the day. Watch in 4K or HD.
This was it about our lovely kinda sensational day. Behold! this is just the beginning, the upcoming couple of days are of the same nature. We were bowled out by the beauty of New Zealand totally. So watch out for more interesting posts from this beautiful part of the world as we set out to explore some more hidden gems in this ‘Trip of Lifetime’ series.
Stay tuned! 🙂