1848 the first Scottish settlers arrived at the bay of Dunedin. They were Presbyterian, who were not very happy about the system the Presbyterian Church in Scotland worked. So they decided to leave Scotland and to settle somewhere else. Their leader was Thomas Burn, a brother of the famous poet Robert Burn. You cannot ignore the adoration for Robert Burns in Dunedin.The name Dunedin is the English pronunciation of the Gallic name for Edinburgh - Dun Eideann - what means "town of the hills". The name was not chosen randomly. The settlers knew that they would never see their home again so they brought their home to New Zealand. For example you will find in Dunedin Princes Street, George Street etc. Also the names of the suburbs have been imported. The settlers left Edinburgh with a complete plan of the new town which was put on the landscape with put any change of plans or landscape. Still today the streets in New Zealand are more adapted to the landscape then the other way around. I guess, that is the reason why you will find the steepest street of the world - Baldwin Street - in Dunedin.
Dunedin is the capital of the province Otago and was mainly settled by Scottish settlers. In Dunedin and Otago you sometimes ask yourself, where you really are. The names of the streets and places are far to similar to those in Scotland. Also the birthplace of Thomas Burns was imported. Mosgiel is find in immediate vincity of Dunedin and is part of the town district Dunedin, which extend to Middlemarch.
Today Dunedin is the eighth biggest town in New Zealand and the second biggest on the South Island. It is hard to imagine if you see the town today, but at the end of the 19th century and begin of the 20th century Dunedin was not only the biggest town in New Zealand, it was also the wealthiest. This was because of the gold which was found in Otago. The gold miners came into the country via Dunedin and bought their supply in town before they left, taking the Dunstan Trail to the gold fields in Central. Furthermore a resourceful young man devised a way of shipping frozen meat to England. In England cheap meat was really needed. Meat was expensive and not affordable for industrial workers. New Zealand had to many sheep (because of a downturn in wool business), which were driven over the cliffs because the meat could not be sold in New Zealand simply cause there was more than enough meat. Still today lamb and deer is ship from Dunedin/Port Chalmers. When I passed Dunedin Railway Station I often saw containers with "Hamburg Süd" written on it.
Unfortunately today Dunedin's wealth is gone and at some places the town looks desolate and building worthy of preservation go to rack, only because there is no money to safe them. Today Dunedin's treasure is the Railway Station at Anzac Square, the Court Building and the University (the oldest in New Zealand). Not to forget the nature at Otago Peninsula.
The climate in Dunedin is quite balanced. That Dunedin is located right at the Pacific coast has advantages and disadvantages. The winter is relative mild and there are only a few days with frost and snowfall. But then chaos dominates the town. To leave Dunedin you have cross the hills, which surround the town. With summer wheels on snow and temperatures around 0° dg it is a hopeless endeavor. Without snow chains you cannot go up the hills. In summer the temperature seldom climbs above 20°dg, because there is a steady strong wind coming straight from the South Pole. The "hot days" are often in November, sometime in December too, later in the year the wind is too constant. In Dunedin the few days with temperature above 20°dg are called "bloody hot" from New Zealanders. But I have really missed the hot summer days.
Dunedin from Mount Cargill - at the left edge of the pictute Waverley, where we lived
First Church of Otago - not the first church that was built in Dunedin, the first one was Knox Church at Georg Street.
First Church of Otago
The First Church of Otago, in short called is a church of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. The church is built in the centre of Dunedin, Otago, on a plateau. The plateau was created by removing the top of the hill. After a building time of seven years the church was finished in 1875 but it was already opened in 1873.
The church was built by Robert Lawson, an architect, who was born in Scotland and later moved to New Zealand. Before Lawson was awarded the contact for the contraction, in 1857 the realisation of the church had been planned by W. H. Monson. But the plans for a church with 500 seats never came into existence. It should take until January 1862 before a submission for building the church took place. Lawson put in 6 blueprints under the pseudonym "Presbyter". He got the acceptance and moved from Melbourne to Dunedin to realise the building of the church for a price of 12.000 New Zealand Pounds, later the cost rose to 20.000 New Zealand Pounds.
To build the church on a plateau in the centre of Dunedin it was necessary to reduce the crest of the hill for 12 m, the sole was used for land reclamation in the harbour of Dunedin. The foundation block was laid on 15th May 1868 by Thomas Burns, Pastor and co-founder of Dunedin. But Burns, the pastor of the church, never saw the church building finished; he died in January 1871. Even though the church was opened on 23rd November 1873 it took until 1875 before the church was finally finished. Short before the church was opened the architect Lawson realised, that the tower was 4,50 m too short. He took the top of the tower down and rebuilt it in the claimed high.
Because of the heavy weathering of the lime stone parts of the buildings were repaired and reinforced during the 1950's. The main restore work of the building were done from 1991 to 1992 after a nationwide charity appeal brought 1,5 Million NZD.
The more than 56 m (185 feet) high building was built in a Norman-Gothic style. The foundations of the building are done with a stone from the area of Port Chalmers. The rest of the building is built with cream-coloured Oamaru Stone, which was taking for many other buildings of that time. The tower is accomplished in a slim way, surrounded by wee towers, spires and gables.
When the church was opened the interior of the church was one room. The walls were painted white and the wooden roof was painted in a pale blue. Four years later a gallery, which offered another 170 seats, was built above the main entry. The native notice at that time, that the wooden gallery had improved the acoustic of the church. Today the church has space for 1000 visitors. The chancel and the baptismal font are done in stone. Both have many engravings and ornaments and are created by Louis John Godfrey (1834-1919).
The tower has got 12 bells, which are operated through a keyboard. Eight of these bells can operate in the traditional way by so called Change-ringer of the church. The change-ringers are organised in the Society of Change-ringers. The bells are brought to sound by a vertical to pull rope by a special ritual. Therewith the First Church of Otago is the only Presbyterian Church outside of the UK which are practising the art of bell-ringing.
Dunedin Railway Station
Dunedin Railway Station
Today Dunedin railway station is the best known building of New Zealands South Island and a jewel of the architecture of the country.
A Railway Station for Dunedin
Already at an early stage in the development of the railway in New Zealand Dunedin was part of the railway net. On 1rst January 1873 the first line between Dunedin and Port Chalmers with a track gauge of 1.067 mm was opened. Followed on 7th September 1878 by the opening of the 367 km long South Island Main Trunk Railway between Dunedin and Christchurch. More infrastructure provision of the land towards the south followed not much later. Because of the importance of the harbour for immigrants from Europe but also because of the export of goods to Australia and Europe soon there was the need for more trans-shipment places. In the year 1875, closed to the Queen Victoria Statue of Dunedin and right next to the station a second railway station was built. Already 5 years later there was again the need to extent the existing station. But it took until the 3rd June 1904 before the foundation stone for a new, sufficiently dimensioned station area was laid by the Minister of Railways, Joseph Ward.
New constructed building of the biggest railway station in New Zealand
The railway station was designed by the first architect of the New Zealand Railway, Georg A. Troup, who also built the railway stations in New Plymouth, Lower Hutt and Bluff, but the Dunedin Railway Station was his masterpiece. Built in the Flemish Renaissance building style the construction was built from dark basalt and light limestone, called Oamaru Stone, which was taken from nearby quarries. Polish garnet plates dominate the front side of the building. The corridors and the great main hall are flagged with more than 725.760 porcelain tiles, creating beautiful mosaics showing pictures of railway wagons, wheels, signals, steam engines and the big letters NZR for New Zealand Railway. The main platform is with round about 1 km length the longest in the country. a prominent part of the station building is the right-angled tower at the south-west corner of the building. The tower is more than 37 m high and show at three sides an clock with 1.5 m diameter. At night it is illuminate from the inside. The building was opened in October 1906 by Joseph Ward, the Prime minister of New Zealand at that time but it took until November 1907 before the building was definitive finished. The whole building cost 120.500 Pounds (ca. 241.000 NZD) an enormous amount at that time.
Loss of importance
More than ten-thousand travellers a day were count during the first decades of the 20th century, but slowly the number of passengers decreased caused by the termination of the railway lines from Dunedin. In 1976 the line Dunedin - Alexandra, the Central-line, was closed. In the year 1982 the lines to the suburbs were closed down even though there were still 4.000 passengers registered a day. After in 2002 the line called the The Southerner, the connection between Invercargill - Dunedin - Christchurch, was terminated the giant railway station lost its original importance.
Even though the New Zealand Railway NZR and the private successors Tranz Rail and Toll Rail stopped the passenger services the Dunedin Railway Station is still in corresponding use. Since 1990 the Otago Excursion Train Trust prosecutes the Taieri Gorge Railway , the greatest New Zealand tourist railway, which starts in Dunedin (lines: Dunedin - Middlemarch - Taieri Gorge Railway - and Dunedin - Palmerston - Seasider). In 1994 the city council of Dunedin took over the building and in the following years it was restored and repaired, after the last 90 years since the opening only a few conservation works was done.
Today you will find inside the railway building the rooms of the Taieri Gorge Railway, the New Zealand Sport Hall of Fame, a gallery and a restaurant. Further the Dunedin City Council has some offices here.
The court opposite Dunedin Railway Station, built with the same stone
Recording to the Guiness Book o Records Baldwin Street is the steepest street in the world. It is located in the North East Valley, 3.5 km north of Dunedin City. The maximum. A short straight street a little under 350 metres (1,150 ft) long, Baldwin Street runs east from the valley of the Lindsay Creek up the side of Signal Hill towards Opoho, rising from 30 m (98 ft) above sealevel at its at its junction with North Road to 100 m(330 ft) above sea level at the top, an average slope of slightly more than 1:5. Its lower reaches are only moderately steep, and the surface is asphalt, but the upper reaches of this cul-de-sac are far steeper, and surfaced in concrete (200 m, 660 ft long), for ease of maintenance (bitumen - in either chip seal or asphalt—would flow down the slope on a warm day) and for safety in Dunedin's frosty winters. At its maximum, the slope of Baldwin Street is about 1:2.86 (19° or 35%). That is, for every 2.86 metres travelled horizontally, the elevation changes by 1 metre.
Every year in September there is a race over a length of 750 m, the "Baldin Street Gutbuster", where the competiter have to run the street up hill and down hill. The record of 1:56 minutes is from 1994. Greg, Johns son, has won the race once.
Since 2002, a further charity event has been held annually in July, which involves the rolling of over 30,000 Jaffas (spherical confectionery-coated chocolate confectionery). Each Jaffa is sponsored by one person, with prizes to the winner and funds raised going to charity. This event follows a tradition started in 1998, when 2,000 tennis balls were released in a sponsored event raising money for Habitat for Humanity.
On 14th January 2000 the Bavarian Thomas Hugenschmidt established a speed record of 117.3 km/h riding on his bike downhill.
The Otoga Peninsula is round about 30 km long and up to 12 km wide. It is part of Dunedin and stretch from Dunedin South in north-east direction into the Pacific Ocean.
Originally part of a collapsed crater with its extention the peninsula now has a varying landscape and many different landforms with fascinating views into valleys, bay, the ocean und the Otago Harbour.
The Otago Peninsula was formed during the three great eruption phases of the vulcano which was active 11 - 13 Million years ago. The centre of the eruption was between the today places Port Chalmers und Portobello. The vulcano roose from the sea, right at the coast which was flat land at that time. When the shield vulcano developed the fluid lava ran into two directions, following the bed of the todays Otago Harbour. The vulcano reached a maximum hight of 1000 m and fromed with its up to 200 different active centres the landscape. After the collaps of the vulcano and the affect of the erosion the partly soft and partly rough landscape developed as it is seen today. Original formed as an island the south-west part of the lava bed laying below sea level filled with sand and conneted to the main land. Today the centre of Dunedin is exactly at this place.
From the highest hill (nearly 400 m) it goes down into the Pacific ocean. The coastline change between steep, nearly 100 m high cliffs and small or bigger, sandy bays with shielded shallow water zones, so called Inlets. Towards the Otago Harbour the hill sides drop less steep which encouraged the settlement.
Taiaroa head is a rocky cliff at the north-east top at the Otago Peninsula and is therewith situated right at the entry to Otago Harbour. From the Maori original called Pukekura the European settlers changed the name in Taiaroa Head, after the chief of the Ngai Tahi, Te Matenga Taiaroa (1783 - 1863, Otakou).
The Lighthouse - As an import and strategic point the 12 m high lighthouse was built here in 1864. The Otago Gold Rush made it necessary to build the lighthouse and also brought the financial potential. The lighthouse is equipped with a modern radar station and is run by the Royal New Zealand Navy. as it is still in use you can only see it from the outside.
Fort Taiaroa - From 1885 Taiaroa Head was built out into a small fortress with gangways beneath the earth and six cannon batteries. The political situation in Asia and two wars, the Japanese-Chinese War (1894 - 1895) and the Russian-Japanese-War (1904 - 1905) increased the militarism in New Zealand and in the consequence to the building of the fortress.
Royal Albatross Colony - Between 1914 and 1919 the first Royal Albatrosses (Latin: Diomedea epomophora) were seen at Taiaroa Head and in 1920 the first egg was found as an evidence that the bird are hatching here. 1937 Dr. L.E Richdale, an ornithologist from Dunedin, began to study the birds, which have a wingspan up to 3 m and might flight with a speed of 115 km/h. He also started to protect the bird from disturbance of the environment. Through the tenacity and diligence of ornithologist Dr Lance Richdale, the albatross colony became established on the headland and in 1939 it was designated a Wildlife Reserve. In 1951 the first full-time Reservation Ranger was employed to take care of the birds and their chicks. Today the Royal Albatross Centre (http://www.albatross.org.nz), a research and caring station, gives visitors the chance to have a closer look at these majestic flying birds without disturbing them during the incubation.
Coming from Dunedin there are two options to go to Taiaroa Head. Option one is the low road along the coastline of the bay. The other option is the Highcliff Road. The road has gotten its name for reason. It starts in the town suburb Vauxhaul/Waverley and is winding along the hills far above the bay (100 m). There are sections where you stop breathing because of the left side (if you are going towards Taiaroa Head) are steep falling down. Next stop Harbour Bay. And in New Zealand you drive on the left side! Approximate at the high of Portobello the intersection to Larnach Castle is located, only a few hundred meters further the road follows a steep fall to Portobello. From here onwards the road meets the other road coming from Dunedin and follows the coastline. On your way to the Albatross Centre you can also visit a colony of Yellow-Eyed Penguins, which are only found in New Zealand. On the whole coast seals (Fur Seals and New Zealand Sea Bears) and Blue Penguins (25 cm high) are bustling around.
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