RV Exchange Travel Destination - New Zealand - Dunedin
New Zealand - RV / Motorhome / Campervan Exchange International Travel Destination.
A city with a rich mix of history and charm.
Although some benighted souls from the north shake their heads at the thought of actually living in Dunedin, the people who do rebuff the unkind comments about its isolation and cooler climes. Indeed, they are staunch supporters of the city’s weather.
“It’s hopelessly over played,” they reckon. “In fact it’s not dismal at all. We have less rainfall than Auckland, calm, clear, skies and very little pollution.”
They do however, confess to getting a bit of wind and although the temperatures are often too low for comfort, they say they get used to it.
But I would say that for a visitor in a motorhome or caravan it is best to go there in the warmer months, just in case you strike it (in one of those rarer moments) when it cuts up rough.
There have been times when Dunedin has been as familiar to me as a pair of old socks. My impressions, memories and experiences of the city are layered and intertwined and the past gives to the present a texture that’s as thick as a tartan blanket.
My Scottish forebearers went there fleeing the Highland clearances and looking for safety in a land that resembled their own. Almost a hundred years later I arrived there to go to university, and those three years are a memory of the tangled times of my youth. Overlaid with these are now my new impressions of the place – the dignity I’d never noticed before, in its hills clustered with houses and the huge, sombre stone buildings that speak of its prosperous past.
In the last few years I’ve added to the memories with visits to the albatross and yellow-eyed penguins on the peninsula, conversations with Isaac who lived in a boathouse at Port Chalmers, damp cool walks through the trees of the green belt, windy treks along the sand dunes of the beaches and talks over a meal of pasta and chicken with Olivia, who told me she had dressed up as Scarlet O’Hara for her wedding.
My Dunedin is a jumble of nostalgia for my youth, pangs of sadness for the way things have not unfolded as I expected them to back then, and delight in what I find in the city as it is today.
For a start, it rates among the word’s better-preserved cities of Victoriana. Some of its former glory is still intact, testifying to the vision of its founders. Gold dictated Dunedin style. Wealth had to be seen, and was. Wealth had to be used, and was. It was a bonanza for architects, and unlike many other New Zealand cities it has managed to hold on to some of its grander buildings.
It has the biggest town hall in the country. The Evening Star building is one of an enclave of Victorian and Edwardian buildings. Across the street, the restored richly-Gothic Law Courts are perhaps the most memorable law courts in the country. Built in bluestone, the finials and gargoyles echo the famed Flemish renaissance Dunedin railway station, which was the extraordinary work of architect ‘Gingerbread George’ Troup. The building is home to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.
Then there’s the baronial Larnach Castle, built for the merchant/politician William Larnach, who modestly called it ‘The Camp’. And now owned by the city, the Jacobean home of Olveston gives its visitors a glimpse of the elegance and affluence of early Dunedin’s prosperous citizens.
While it was being built (1904-1906) a young John A Lee was just down the road, living the gloomy and impoverished life described in his groundbreaking book, Children of the Poor.
Dunedin’s Public Art Gallery has a New Zealand-wide and international reputation on account of some of the bequests and donations made from people past and present, particularly the past, when Dunedin was the commercial centre of New Zealand. There are also notable works of art housed in The Otago Museum, one of the city’s finest buildings.
And yet Dunedin is a lot more than its past. Students have always lent it an atmosphere of fun and future. Now, locals say, there are many other things happening it the city. And despite the weather, there is no other place they would want to call home.
From Motorhomes, Caravans and Destinations. (www.motorhomesandcaravans.co.nz)
Author: Jill Malcolm
New Zealand - RV / Motorhome / Campervan Exchange International Travel Destination. Explore New Zealand with an RV, Motorhome, Campervan or Caravan swap through RV Worldwide.
Sunday, 9 March 2014