New Zealand
Peggys Hill

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    • Day 22

      Larnach Castle

      March 21, 2016 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

      Larnach Castle (also referred to as "Larnach's Castle"), is a castle on the ridge of the Otago Peninsula close to the small settlement of Pukehiki. It is one of a few houses of this scale in New Zealand. The house was built by prominent entrepreneur and politician, William Larnach who - unfortunately - committed suicide in Parliament. The Castle is now privately owned by the Barker Family, and operated as a tourism destination.

      The Castle and Grounds are open daily to members of the public. The Larnach Castle gardens are one of only five gardens nationwide to have been given the rating of "Garden of International Significance" by the New Zealand Gardens Trust. These were the first gardens in the South Island to receive the title.
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    • Day 23

      Queenstown to Dunedin and a Castle

      November 13, 2016 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 9 °C

      Saturday 12th November
      Before leaving Queenstown we wanted to ride on the cable car which goes to the top of the hill where there is a café and of more interest to us - a luge track. Janet wasn’t at all sure about going on the luge, but her reputation was at stake as her family at home did not believe she would do it and she wanted to prove them wrong! Arriving at the ticket office at 9.30am there was no queue and we were able to board the cable car immediately. Being on the edge of the city the cable car gives a fabulous view of the whole of Queenstown. We were surprised at how small Queenstown actually is. For some reason we thought it much larger. We strolled around at the top, taking photos of the view before wandering around to catch the 2 person chair lift up to the luge which was higher up the mountain and ran down to the cable car station. Rummaging in my pockets I realise I have lost my ticket, when I took out my phone to take photos it must have fallen out. Luckily the ticket office believe me and honour my ticket. Before we get to the ticket office we walk past the track – it’s a boys own dream! Windy track with hills, tunnels and steep banked bends with the riders in a 4-wheeled cart steered by a central handle that you pull back to stop, otherwise it just gains speed and momentum as it bombs down the track. There are two tracks, the blue starter track and the fast red track. All first timers have to go on the blue track to begin with. Getting into the cart was the first challenge, they are so low to the ground and unless you are either 18 or possess super supple joints it was not an easy or dignified sight. Once in you are given rudimentary instructions then, having passed the ‘test’, off you go! Well what super fun! Despite there being notices in BIG letters saying ‘no racing’, ‘no bumping’, ‘no overtaking’ and basically no fun, we went for it! Pete took an early lead but I was hot on his tail, Janet gallantly trundled along behind. Pete then made the fatal mistake of doing an emergency stop by pulling back on his handle and nearly jettisioning himself out. Taking full advantage, I tore past whooping loudly (no racing! Not likely), he was cursing and getting his luge going again. Just before Janet also overtook him he got going again and was soon right behind me but I wasn’t giving up that easily and didn’t allow him room to manoeuvre (no overtaking rule!). All too soon the finish was in sight and it was over. I was jubilant with my first place. We had one more go left. Peter and I opt for the faster red track, Janet preferred to stay with the blue. Peter was far more confident than I and raced away, leaning into and whizzing round the corners and actually taking off as we went over the steep hills, I was far more cautious and braked quite a lot to slow me down. We all agreed that the luge was huge fun and as we were leaving stopped to watch a group of twenty something guys tearing down the track, bumping, racing and overtaking but all having great fun – that’s what it’s all about.

      We stopped again at Arrowtown as previously we had not visited the Chinese settlement where there are the ruins of huts – they could hardly be called houses, and stories about the migration of Chinese settlers to the area in the time of the gold rush and their subsequent mistreatment and isolation by the locals. Their living conditions and existence made harrowing reading at times.

      Just outside Queenstown we came to a big bridge over a river with a bungee jump platform on the middle of the bridge. Never having seen anyone actually bungee before we were interested to stop and have a go, no not really, just to watch!  It was quite fascinating really, we saw one guy back out, he was strapped in the harness and standing on the platform but just couldn’t go through with it, and another older guy around 60 who did it for the first time. A young girl swallow dived off whilst others just jumped or fell forwards. There was an optional hair wash as well which involved your head dipping in the water which some of them took up. Once they had done their jump a dingy, tethered to the bank hauled them on board and took them to the bank. All seemed jubilant at their achievement. Not for us though, far too scary and risky! Next to the bungee was a zip wire, this looked much tamer with seated harnesses and a short run alongside the river, not like the 2km zip lines we did in Costa Rica where you held onto a bar and were hooked on with just a mountaineer’s carabiner and a leather strap round your waist. That didn’t look challenging enough for us!

      The drive to Dunedin was a long one so Peter and I shared the driving. It was through fairly deserted areas with an occasional shop, looking very sleepy and not very inviting. The roads were more or less deserted so we had no hold ups. We drove through rain showers and back out into sunshine, eventually arriving at Dunedin at 5pm. The final place we are staying on New Zealand is Lanarch Castle which says it is the only castle in New Zealand. Tired out we decide to have dinner at the castle which was an interesting and enjoyable affair. All the guests sit around a long table together whilst their chosen food is served. We were opposite a pleasant couple from Essex. Talking about our journey out we discovered they too had flown Emirates and enquired how they had found them. They looked a bit blank then the guy said they thought Emirates were ok; his wife had found a shower thing for her feet that she enjoyed and kept her amused. She laughed in agreement. At this point we realised they must have been upstairs, clearly not travelling cattle class like us!!
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    • Day 23

      Around Larnach Castle and Dunedin

      November 13, 2016 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

      There was a light in the corridor outside our room that burned bright all night and was really irritating, Pete fixed that this morning, took off the cover and unscrewed the bulb. That should sort it. He will screw it back when we leave.

      Since Janet and I are full of cold, coughing, sniffing and sneezing all over the place we did not fancy doing anything too strenuous, so we decided to explore the castle this morning and go to Dunedin this afternoon. As we are staying at the castle we could have a free audio tour. This was very interesting and gave a lot of the detail about the history of the house and its owners. It was like going round a stately home in the UK, all the rooms are furnished in period décor and furniture. It was built by William Larnach for his family. He was a very inventive and progressive person, even to the extent that he recycled horse and human sewage, harnessing the methane gas and using it to light the chandeliers in the house. However for all his work on the house and money his was not an entirely happy life and he ended up committing suicide when he was in his 50’s. His son also committed suicide when he was young as well. The current owners, the Barker family bought the castle in 1967 when it was in a poor state of repair and have spent years renovating it and furnishing it with period pieces. The gardens have been similarly renovated worked on mainly by Mrs Barker. They are a blaze of glorious colour and we can see that in a couple of weeks the laburnum arches will be a blaze of colour where at the moment they are hanging their pendulous buds in anticipation of spring sunshine and warmth. Similarly the delphiniums are budding up and promising a grand show of colour in a few short days. Shame we will not be here to see it. Scattered around the grounds in strategic places are various sculptures that enhance the gardens.

      We drove into Dunedin and after finding a pharmacy to purchase more tissues and some decongestant – we can’t bear the thought of flying whilst this bunged up, we decided to go and see the Chinese Garden. It was small but very tranquil with all the elements expected. A lily filled pond, a zig-zag bridge over it, rocks with a waterfall and trellis with the Chinese fretwork everywhere. We found a relaxation garden with several circular tables and seats. On each table was laid out a different game for visitors to try. Janet and I sat down to enjoy a game of Chinese chequers. Peter tried moving marbles from one bowl to another using just chopsticks. It was so peaceful we loved it.

      Next we went for a stroll in Dunedin Botanical Gardens. Although the huge glass houses were shut we did find an aviary with lots of large cages. There were many types of parrots and macaws housed there, some for breeding purposes to return fledglings to the wild. However having seen macaws and parrots flying wild in the Amazon it didn’t seem right for them to be caged for although the cages were large they could not compare to flying wild. It made me sad to see them so. Some did seem to be showing signs of boredom and frustration. The gardens though were beautiful, especially the rock garden. Tumbling cascades of colour covered the rocks, looking from afar like a multi-coloured tapestry.

      Since Janet and I were fading fast we decided to grab a bite to eat and head back to the castle and our nice warm beds. An early night would be very welcome.
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    • Day 10

      Larnach Castle and Dunedin's twisty hill

      January 25, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

      We got to look around the Castle before we left, and saw the dining room who would have eaten in if we’d stayed .... and if we’d had better information. We did give our feedback!

      Dunedin is an incredibly hilly place - we almost got used to twists and turns. On the street signs, when there was a yellow triangle, it meant “caution”: they weren’t joking in many cases!Read more

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    Peggys Hill

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