A MIXED YET OVERFLOWING BAG
After our fantastic stay in Oamaru, we were quite disheartened by the extremely high prices and low quality of the sleeping options in Dunedin. It was Labour Day Weekend, so not only was it crowded but the prices were the highest (by far) we've encountered in all of New Zealand. We ended up having to pay almost $300 a night for a scummy motel room across the street from a university dorm. Fortunately the students were having mid-terms, so it was at least quiet during our stay.
Maya enjoyed her favorite meal in all of New Zealand in a most unlikely spot - Speight's Brewery! The Kid's Picnic Platter consisted of a couple slices of lunch meat, crackers, cheese, fresh fruit, bread w/butter, and warm pudding - all covered with candy sprinkles. It was quite the creative culinary presentation.
This delightful dining experience was followed by a tour of Cadbury World. Photos were not allowed inside the building (I think they were afraid Slugworth might try to steal their secrets), the factory was quite loud, and we had to wear some "lovely" hats, so the adults were not all that thrilled. But our girls absolutely loved it. The tour guide would explain how some part of the candy making process worked and then she'd follow up with questions which the tour guests were to answer. Once Madeline and Maya realized that correct answers would be rewarded with free samples, they became rapt listeners. They each left with the motherload of all free sample bags. Maya had more than her bag would even hold. So she accurately inventoried her take and allotted a carefully accounted portion to my bag which she later reclaimed. The tour ended with Cadbury's version of Willy Wonka's chocolate waterfall. The liquid chocolate splashed all over the place; even our shoes had chocolate on their soles.
We made a quick visit to Baldwin Street, which is the steepest street in the world. With a 19 degree gradient, it beats out San Francisco's Filbert and Lombard Streets. Ryan and the girls hiked up to the top, as I "unfortunately" had to stay in the car to do a little research about our future travels. (I know lame, huh? But while in the photo it doesn't look that bad, it really was extremely steep.)
We spent a day out on the Otago Peninsula. The area is famous for harboring the only mainland Royal Albatross colony but unfortunately the observatory was closed to visitors as it was the beginning of the breeding season. Apparently albatross partners need to rekindle the romance in private. So, instead we visited a nearby area of nesting shags, drove around the waterfront and found something resembling the Dragonboat from the book Magyk, and then finished up with a visit to Larnach Castle.
Larnach Castle was billed as New Zealand's only castle. But, oddly enough, their own Guide to the Castle explained that it was not actually a castle but rather a manor house. Still it was a very interesting place to visit.
It was an okay couple of days, but not a place we'd highly recommend. We did enjoy all of the above activities, both Ryan and I finally succeeded in parallel parking (which is actually quite disconcerting when driving on the left), plus being a University town Dunedin had an excellent book store, however, we just couldn't get past the ridiculous cost and lack of quality in our accommodation.