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Trip Report I love Dunedin ,the Edinburgh of New Zealand! Or “Done in in Dunedin.”

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Ten or so years ago, I took my parents to Dunedin in the South Island of beautiful New Zealand. It was a long time wish of my mother to go to Great Britain and see castles and history but I was too mean to spend that kind of money. Well... that was not the real reason, at least not one I will admit to .....My mother has had ill health for some time and I knew that such a long trip would be impossible for her so decided the 'Scotland of the South' with the only castle in the Southern Hemisphere would do just fine.

They loved Dunedin with it's Scottish flavour, fabulous gold rush architecture, magnificent train journey to the Taieri gorge and Art Gallery complete with a Gainsborough. Now, after my parents had endured two major operations and had missed a trip to Bowral for their Fifty Eighth wedding anniversary, I rashly decided to take them back there.

As most of my friends know, I was somewhat reluctant to do this one last family overseas holiday to Dunedin. I love living with my parents but there are times that , on waking in the morning , one does not wish to discuss philosophy , the arts or the meaning of life or indeed any topic of conversation...one simply wants to reply to any question with a ....grunt . But anyway , regardless of my need for a little privacy , I did have feelings of impending doom about this trip, and I was right to feel this way.

We were all exhausted before we arrived , hence my subtitle of “Done in in Dunedin.” Let me enclose what a friend wrote when I described the week before departure to her. "Good Lord - what a mess. You are fully entitled to all the negative thoughts you want - earthquakes, dying dogs, slow planes - what next? Let's hope the worst is now over." Fat chance!


It started badly right away. On arriving at the airport , I discovered all our liquids and toiletries, carefully packed in plastic bags, were missing. Thinking they were in the car, we phoned my nephew who had only departed five minutes earlier, to return . But they were not there. After tearing the car apart, I realise...they were at home. I begin to become “tired and emotional” without the alcohol component and felt that I would begin to cry, loudly and uncontrollably, in public. The sleeping traveller behind us did not stir so I pulled myself together so as not to wake her.

The family reassures me that New Zealand is a sophisticated country which sells toothpaste and deodorant virtually anywhere but I am almost inconsolable as I have prepared for this trip as though we were going to deepest darkest Africa. But I repeat my travel mantra,"roll with the punches", so I suck it up,and continue on.

Fortunately, having an elderly person in a wheelchair being cared for by an obviously emotional incompetent is a sure fire sympathy getter and we are so grateful for all the help we receive by concerned staff along the way. So much so , that I would almost recommend carting along an elderly rellie on your next trip. You are first on the plane and treated most kindly so it may be worth the slight inconvenience of carrying two or more persons' luggage consisting of every medication known to medical science on your back, and around your neck and ripping both your arms off.

But my troubles really began when the customs officer announced I had to unpack my bags as there was a...knife in my back pack . My face must have been priceless - a complete gamut of emotions........ disbelief, horror , amusement but mainly....were these people mad? Me?....carrying a knife ? So I emptied all my granny sized underwear on the bench confident that no knife would be found. Oh, the shock and horror of it all ...there amongst my not so delicates , was a broken steak knife...I was sure I was doomed to be hauled off to jail...even before leaving the county!!!!

My family , on ahead as they were weapon-less, knew nothing of the reasons of my detention and , later when explaining to my sister how I came to have a sharp bladed knife in my bag, she said that my explanation sounded utterly implausible and unbelievable. But it was the truth. I had been staying at a sick friend's house just before departing to Dunedin and had broken one of her streak knives cutting up dog food, I think, and , being too embarrassed to tell her , had slipped it into my bag and decided to just replace it with a similar one. Except I didn't.

To my surprise and great relief, the customs officers appeared unperturbed and acted as if everyone tried to smuggle a knife on board and just said that I couldn't take it with me. I said " No worries, I don't want it " ...It was broken after all. I then made my escape. But note to fellow travellers .Don't try this at home!

The pleasure my Mum got looking out the plane window began to thaw my frozen heart but not enough to stop me ordering several overpriced food items and watching a trashy movie to sooth my shattered nerves. I decided on “Clash of the Titans” as I was reading Bullfinches "Guide to Mythology" and had seen pretty much all the other Perseus and Andromeda mythology movies including the Harry Hamlin,Ursula Andress version where Pegasus looked like a tired old cart horse with fake wings.

This one wasn't too bad. Any movie with hunky men in short skirts is bearable. I even like that old movie, “The Egyptian” , featuring a very camp Victor Mature in a VERY short toga prancing around. This one featured the hottest looking snake- haired Medusa on film...if you could ignore the snake body. Oh,and the Julie Bishop “death stare”. (Australian readers familiar with a certain pollie's ability to explode garden gnomes on TV with her death stare may know what I mean. All others Google "Julie Bishop ,Garden Gnome and death stare".) Pegasus was also quite convincing too. Throw in a few hideous left over extras from an old Star Wars movie, some really ugly cockroach / lobster cross bred hybrids and even the "Kracken" about to eat a maiden starts to look cute.

The flight continued on uneventfully until shortly before landing. We hit some pretty strong turbulence and the captain announced that we may have to divert to Christchurch as the weather in Dunedin was so bad. The announcement was made so rapidly that my parents fortunately missed this. They don't hear well at the best of times and this was the best of times not to hear.

My sister did not think it much of an alternative as Christchurch appeared in the media to have been levelled by an earthquake and , anyway, we had a car and accommodation in Dunedin. I asked the flight attendant how we would get back to Dunedin if this happened and she said that it would be by road. As we had been travelling since 4am , I did not relish another 4 to 5 hours by bus but the attendant assured me that we did have one window of opportunity to land at Dunedin and that the pilots were “pretty good” and so we would attempt to land.

As the plane bucked and tossed like an enraged bronco, my sister remarked that Christchurch was staring to look much better as an alternative. As our “window of opportunity” was now passed where we could abort the landing, I decided to avoid watching " Air Crash Investigations" on TV in future and my sister and I told each other jokes and laughed in that care-free way people do when they are being tossed around in a tin can of a plane. My sister gaily remarked, that perhaps we should have considered flying separately, but at least her grown children would inherit something this way and then added happily , there wouldn't be that much to inherit! We actually were chuckling our heads off as we both seemed so witty as we laughed in the face of death. Nothing seemed as bad as leaving my face cream back in Australia anyway. I glanced at the attendants who appeared a bit tight lipped but stoic and braced for the landing. Everyone broke into cheers and wild applause as the pilot successfully placed the plane on the runway.

Later, my Mum told me that she had joked with the pleasant young man who wheeled her off the plane. "Do you have a licence for this thing? ” He replied jovially "Well if I can land a plane , I think I can handle this!" I bet not many people have the plane's captain be their personal wheelchair chauffeur!

I had had one similar incident in Auckland where the landing was even more scary so I was quite blasé about it all and I noticed all the passengers seemed to be likewise nonchalant so I assumed that New Zealand weather conditions made such landings almost daily occurrences. I asked the flight attendant if she had had many landings like this and the mask of invincibility temporarily dropped and she admitted “No.. this was unusual.” and I could see she was very relieved that we had landed!

As we taxied to the terminal, I found my mobile phone had been left on , so I knew I was responsible for the scary landing and wondered if there could have been anything else I could have done to jeopardise this innocent family holiday. However, another reason became apparent when we tried to leave the airport .Gale force wind made walking nearly impossible and made the drive to the city almost as hair raising as the landing!

On arriving at Dunedin customs, more embarrassment ensued. I had told my elderly parents, who don't take kindly to the red tape rituals, that I would appreciate it if they were to act a bit “do lally'. Not "barking mad" of course....just a bit vague so that I would be left to deal with the bureaucracy. Little did I know these words would return to haunt me.

A customs officer asked my Mum if she had any wheat or rice heat packs or the like with her. Now my Mum is an intelligent woman with an impressive general knowledge but every so often she comes out with statements that are weird, strange and frankly, somewhat disturbing. She then added with her innocent face “I do have a fake breast. My daughter made it for me. I look funny without it.” I hastily explained that one of the reasons for our trip was to celebrate Mum getting over a Mastectomy. I guess they hear everything but I did wonder if the thought crossed their mind that Mum had some sort of concealed contraband in her fake breast! Barking mad!

But we soon forgot all this as we arrived at out charming accommodation , a Victorian mansion called Hulmes Court, unchanged for the ten years since our last visit and likely unchanged since the 1800's . Even the microwave was the same.

We were greeted by the same cat, or type of cat, Solstice , the B&B'S mascot who features on their logo. We soon discovered this was Solstice the Third and we had first met Solstice the First but, then as one black cat looks much the same as another, we didn't care.

We were all totally charmed and delighted by Solly the Third who accompanied us to our room and made us feel welcome by jumping on the bed and refusing to get off .So Mum and Dad lay down around him and we were all happy, especially Solstice. As we laughed at Solly playing amongst our luggage and climbing into our plastic bags, it occurred to me that these little amusements make it all worthwhile. Thank God for animals who take nothing too serious!

Next installment . It's only Day Two and I nearly kill even more people.

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    Thanks Kmh7!
    You are not crazy.A bit "do lally" perhaps but not barking mad. Actually ,you sound very nice to do this. You and your Mother will really enjoy this trip, I am sure.

    Make sure you have a wheelchair requested at the airport even if, like my Mum, your Mother can walk a bit. The amount of walking you need to do in an airport is horrendous and very tiring.I would have killed for a wheelchair myself! Sometimes you feel it would be quicker to just walk to your destination and skip the plane altogether.

    I hope you and your Mother get the same lovely type of staff at the airport and on the plane as we did.We simply could not have managed without their help.

    If you are an experience traveller, you will know the importance of encouraging your Mother to travel light and also to keep all her medications with her at all times. If she uses a walker or frame, I believe they are carried free though you will need to book these in. Hence the need to request a wheelchair.

    But even if the getting there may be awful, you and your Mum are sure to have a great time when you are there and it will be a very bonding experience for you both.

    Unfortunately , I can't tell you much about the rest of New Zealand as we only stayed in Dunedin.But I will go into more details about the many attractions there. We could easly have stayed two weeks rather than one as there is so much to see and do there.

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    Next installment . It's only Day Two and I nearly kill even more people.


    My sister and I drove the very short distance to the city distance. It could be walked but is a bit steep for me. The car park at the supermarket seems the best bet as we have heard that parking is expensive and we are unfamiliar with the parking system. We soon discover that the parking metres take credit cards and unlike in Oz, the supermarket car park overstayers will incur a fine if you stay over the two hour limit.

    The Dunedin Art gallery will appeal to both the art aficionado and the casual observer. Works by a personal favourite, Sir Matthew Smith, plus Derain,Turner ,Constable , a beautiful Gainsborough, some exceptional medieval Madonnas and a good display of contemporary New Zealand artists are on permanent display and free to the public. The foyer is lovely , and works well with it's blend of modernism, Deco columns and a mysterious and elaborate wrought iron staircase that appears at first glance to go know where. The coffee shop is also well worth a visit for the excellent service alone. I like the free glass of lightly fruit flavoured fresh water you receive on sitting down which is constantly refreshed by the attentive staff. A nice touch I would like to see in other cafes.

    The next night, my run of stupidity continues as I decide, unconsciously perhaps ....to burn down Hulmes Court. I block the light needed by my nocturnal mother by covering the lamp with a couple of towels at about 3am. I attempt to go back to sleep but can't due to the strong burning smell mysteriously wafting through the room. I have burnt several large holes through two thick towels and melted the lampshade. We open the door to let in some fresh air and Solstice comes in to keep us company after having spent the better part of the night on my Dad's bed in the next room. Solly lays beside me while I type, and proves an excellent antidote to missing my own pets and feeling like a moron. I am so glad animals don't care about the stupidity of dumb humans.... I am also grateful I got to the lamp before the fire alarm went off!

    My mother decides to swap bedrooms ( We have two close by rooms with three beds in each) as the smell is a bit much, so me and the cat are left to our own devices, possibly to destroy something else. After a while my sister comes in and sleeps in my Mum's bed to escape the snoring of my parents. I am now half expecting my Mum to return to her original bed to escape my father's snoring whereas I will go into the room where my Dad is sleeping and join Jimmy, the ginger cat companion to Solly, now sleeping on my sister's vacated bed, Solly gets off my bed and moves into my sister's new bed. My Dad, not noticing my Mum is now sleeping beside him, decides to go back to the other room and is surprised to find my sister where he left my Mum. He passes the cat as he returns to the other room. He, the cat not Dad, then goes outside and, as it is still raining, comes back a bit soggy. So Solly gets kicked off my sister's bed and joins me on my bed. After helping me type , he attacks my feet before settling down on the end of my sister's bed again. He then returns to my bed to swat my battery operated fan and help me type a bit more. More bed swapping that a swingers party!


    Day 3 and my oldies have not really stirred from their beds. They have yet to leave the hotel. But all doubts that they are having a good time are dispelled when my mother says"You may think I am not having a good time,...but I am!" Yesterday, I asked if she was happy and she replies fervently "Very" so I am not worried that this has been an expensive sleep over in New Zealand that could very well have been done somewhere closer than across the Tasman sea.


    I, at least have gone to the Settler's Museum and my sister has gone on the Gorge train trip. We did this train trip 10 years before and enjoyed it, though I think it a little expensive. Well worth it if you have not done the trip previously though.The “Ginger Bread” train station....you will know why it's designer was called “Gingerbread George” when you see it....is well worth visiting even if you don't take a train trip. Like many of the buildings here , it is very beautiful and a little eccentric as are many structures that are designed by the “nouveau riche”. Gold Rush money has rushed to the head and exploded in a profusion of carved stone and decorative frou frou which is nonetheless , very pleasing.


    I love the Settler's museum! I remember it vividly from last visit and I especially enjoyed the room full of Victorian settlers' portraits. From floor to high ceiling,the room is filled with faces gazing down at the observer gazing back ,mostly with that stern, stiff upper lip stare so typical of the era. But on closer examination, one can see a twinkle in many an eye . Perhaps they are thinking," We have not changed a bit since you were here last, but you certainly have aged!"

    There is also a very enjoyable display relating to the Chinese settlers with some most interesting stories of individual Chinese settlers and the hardships and prejudice they endured and also a good section on the local Maori people . As well there is a exhibition about celebrities who have visited Dunedin including the Beatle's very brief stay. So there is something for everyone here including train buffs and toy collectors. The museum must be good as I notice people spending some considerable time reading the signs under the exhibits, a sure sign that it is riveting reading as most museum goers just give them a cursory glance before moving on.

    This Edinburgh of the South charms me. Sure it is not as drop dead gorgeous as it's Scottish counterpart but it is definitely not the plainer, more boring younger sister either. It has it's own charm with it's lovely gold rush architecture and beautiful setting. While no castle dominates the city, Knox Church is still quite impressive. Have a look at Wikepedia for its interesting and amusing history. The imposing cathedral also adds to the city's European ambience.

    It has rained softly since we arrived so the weather is very Scottish and one could be forgiven for thinking that this was somewhere in Great Britain with the statue of Robbie Burns dominating the town centre ,The Octagon. Just up the road from the lovely train station, is a large statue of Queen Victoria surrounded by a dense circle of bare branched trees , all reaching their gnarled limbs rather menacingly towards her . However , one look at her would keep anything at bay as she is quite the most unamused, bad tempered , evil looking depiction I have ever seen of Victoria. I am reminded of Medusa and Julie Bishop again and wonder why the sculptor has depicted her looking so obviously put out with the delightful people of Dunedin!

    And the people are just as friendly as those in Edinburgh too. After asking directions of a kindly middle aged lady she, despite being loaded down with many bags of groceries, waves me off with a cheery good bye as though we are old friends and even stops and watches to make sure I am heading in the right direction.

    I am having trouble with the language though. They speak a kind of English here rather as we in Oz speak a kind of English. But it is still better than Singlish as spoken in Singapore though. But to my ear at least, the accent is very broad and I soon find myself calling my “six “as “sex “and calling everybody "Bro"...under my breath at least as my Dad seemed to insult a few people when we were here last by mocking the accent as a joke! I do love this accent, but I have the embarrassing habit of taking on other accents myself when travelling on the principle of "When in Rome".

    I am a fan of popular New Zealand comedy" Flight of the Phoenix " and have many Kiwi friends which helps. Still, my New "Zilland" leaves something to be desired. The language barrier is apparent as the discount shop I have been looking for is , according to the girl at the B&B , called the " Heppy Quin" . I assume they mean the Hippy Queen but no one has heard of it. I discover it is in fact the "Happy Coin." But I still love that Scottish element and am charmed when today, after a little souvenir shopping, the girl asked me if I would like a " wee" bag for my purchase!

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    Day four and at last my oldies have left the hotel, albeit for a very short time. Both Mum and Dad make it to the art gallery and Mum also manages to get to the Settler's Museum which I had noticed had a wheelchair for public use when I had been there the day before. We make use of this as Mum is too tired to walk.

    We enjoy dressing up in the clothes on display for the “Life in the Seventies” exhibition and I photograph Michelle in a psychedelic dressing gown against the backdrop of the orange lounge and brown geometric wallpaper of the trendy 70's home. Mum pops her head into the cut-out with the Farrah Fawcet Majors hairdo and we all have a chuckle over the other rather awful clothes that we once all wore.

    Like me , Michelle and Mum are enchanted with the room full of Victorian portraits and the life size mock up of the sleeping quarters of a ship travelling from Scotland to Dunedin. We don't like the idea of being crowded into the standard 5 ft 9inches by 18' size bunk for woman or 6ft by 3ft for couples and appreciate our comfy beds back at Hulmes Court even more. The gallery is undergoing major developments and will reopen bigger and better in 2012. An excellent transport museum next door, unfortunately closed at present ,will also reopen and will prove another major draw card. I remember it from last time as being very good with a wide display of vehicles that the motoring enthusiast would appreciate.

    Just up the road is the wonderful Chinese Gardens, a new attraction and only recently opened. Very beautiful and will be even more so as it matures and mellows.It is a most fitting tribute to the Chinese settlers. It also has a lovely gift shop...I like gift shops that have lovely stuff and are not expensive. Wednesday nights it is open late and I should imagine it looks very spectacular lit up as it features a great deal of while marble.

    I then go to the more mundane K Mart and replace the lamp I have melted. We finally track down a fish and chip shop where we are astounded how cheap and tasty the food is and Michelle goes onto a classical concert at the Town Hall.

    I join my dear oldies for an early night. I am reminded once again that having children very young as my parents did when aged 17 and 19, has it's draw backs, as both parents and grown children all end up all becoming old codgers together. So, not too long after dinner, we are all tucked up and sound asleep.

    Next...Day 5 and Michelle and I do the wonderful Otago Museum at breakneck speed.
    Back at Hulmes Court, I get trapped , Michelle gets locked out and then monsters a man in his underpants.

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    The Otago museum is wonderful and reminds me of a favourite movie “Night at the Museum”with its delightful Victorian style “Animal Attic” filled with real stuffed animals including two lions who ran away from the circus and got shot for doing so. My sister thinks the place smells a bit but it does add to the atmosphere.


    A night here would be magic...prowling amongst the stuffed animals, giant Moas, Egyptian mummies and vicious looking Pacific Islander models with weapons. Did you know some Pacific Islanders even wore armour? The model wearing it looks most confident in it's efficacy. And so much more scary too! Captain Cook discovered it really worked even though it was only made from woven coconut fibre. It was said to be impervious to sling missiles, shark tooth club blows, spears and other projectiles. ( http://arthur-palmer.blogspot.com/2007/12/pacific-artefacts-banks-bounty-bligh.html)



    The Egyptian and Islander exhibits are excellent and again, I am enchanted all over again and really wish I did not have to rush through. Fortunately, we are able to return for another look and I think this is a museum everyone should see. Check out the wide variety of sophisticated Pacific Islander and Maori carvings, tools and crafts, all different in style and execution. I am particularly taken with the “modern” looking Cook Islander work. Quite different from any others.



    Dunedin has another claim to fame, Baldwin Street, the world's steepest street. I've seen it before so I am not that impressed. We live in ankle breaker territory here in Coledale and I am sure our streets are nearly as steep. Michelle decides to walk up while I decide to sit in the car and watch her. I am thinking she is a little crazy! My sister has a bit of an obsession with climbing things so I don't attempt to dissuade her.

    She chats with some locals on the way up and at the top , and they delight in telling her of the numerous fatal accidents suffered by dare devils attempting to drive up and down this street. Apparently quite a few have crashed coming down. Since me and Dad bravely and ignorantly ( we spoke to no one before our attempt ) drove up when we were there last , I am unimpressed with these horror stories and am surprised that my sister is reluctant to drive up. After my repeated urgings she finally does... It's not so bad. I am sure there would be far more danger dropping dead from a heart attack by walking rather than driving.



    Last night my sister returned late after the concert only to discover she is locked out. Forced to become a “Peeping Tom” she peers through the curtains at the underpants wearing man reclining on his bed watching TV in the room next to hers. She begins to knock on his window. Surprisingly he ignores her. When he finally does get up , he is rather grumpy over being disturbed and argues that since she doesn't have a key, is she really staying here? He opens his window reluctantly but my sister, despite being fit enough to walk up Baldwin Street, declines his offer to climb in and asks if he would mind getting up and opening the door. At last he does. Next morning at breakfast , he smiles and says hello, convinced at last she really is staying here.


    I am laughing over this as we leave next morning. My arms are full of odds and ends, including my laptop, and I totter down the steep steps to the garden. I then slam the door on my raincoat and I am unable to free myself due to my being loaded down, with nowhere to put everything. My sister now laughs her head off and spends an extraordinarily long time taking photos before going around to the front door and releasing me. Still, it is far less embarrassing than all my being locked in toilets as usually happens to me overseas.


    Sometimes you just see things that are puzzling yet strangely delightful. That morning , we see a large procession of smiling men dressed, to our mind at least, as sheiks. They appear to be the genuine article. By that I mean real Sheiks,which I doubt they are, but they are certainly genuine middle eastern men. And they are carrying bouquets of flowers!

    Behind were veiled women also carrying flowers. It was rather magical to see them walking through the shopping centre. I wonder if anyone knows what it was about? It was a kind of Arabian Nights pageant in a modern setting. It reminded me once of an article I read that said that adventure can be simple things and does not have to be of the "Pirates , buried treasure, spies, and expeditions to Africa sort of thing.” Even the usual in a unusual setting has enough exotic interest to be an “adventure”.

    What is adventure anyway? The dictionary defines it as exciting experience: an exciting or extraordinary event or series of events . So I hope to make it seem as glorious in your mind as it is in mine.

    Speaking of dress, I like the way people dress in Dunedin. It is a university city so there are a lot of young people dressed as young people do but even they seem to have a certain style. Older women dress in a Arty and elegant fashion. Black clothing and black tights and black boots are De rigueur and it is a fashion sense I like. It kind of adds to the European feel.


    Next ,I find returning to Dunedin's most popular attractions has been a pleasure worth waiting for as I revisit the only castle in the Southern Hemisphere,an historic home owned by a dare devil spinster and revisit a Singaporean chocolate adventure.

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    Good point, mlgb.

    It is probably not a good idea and some people may object on hygiene or allergy concerns.But I don't want to give the impression that Hulmes Court is crawling with cats and in anyway lacking in cleanliness. We found it very clean and with no odour from the two cats.

    We are cat owners and had no objection to letting the cats in our rooms but it would have been easy to keep them out if wanted. We liked the homey atmosphere the cats gave and it reminded me of family home converted to a B&B in Venice where a great many cats slept on the heaters scattered throughout the house. On entering the house , you could peek into the living room and see the large family and their many pets draped around the room watching TV. Once, one of the family bedroom doors was open and there was Dad sound asleep in bed with his dog stretched out beside him!

    Not for everybody of course but I wouldn't let it put me off staying at Hulmes Court as I found no cleanliness issues. However , take this into account if you have any allergies.

    I love the cat in your profile picture! Very similar to Jimmy and just like my two cats. It's been said that there is no such thing as a bad ginger cat and I can vouch for this!

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    Actually I was probably guilty of encouraging the first Solstice to stay. He was a kitten that had been hanging around, and they were trying to discourage him, but he managed to sneak into my room (the Rose Room) and I didn't mind either.

    I think they try to keep Hulmes II cat free but I wonder how much success they have with it.

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    What exactly do you think is made up,Mztery?

    I am not rich but not broke. As I have said, Carer Pensioners are pretty well looked after here in Australia. Quite a lot of bonuses and, as we are a large family all living together on the same property, we share the expenses.

    A week in Dunedin is not expensive and my family all chipped in to cover the anniversary trip. The exchange rate on the NZ dollar is very good.

    One tip I have found if you are staying for more than a few days or in this case, a week, is to ask nicely if a discount is available for longer stays. Hulmes Court generously gave us a 15% cut on the already reasonable price.

    My sister is sometimes gullible and often unbalanced in her overly generous nature but no one who actually knows her, even slightly, would describe her as dysfunctional.

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    Hi Again,mlgb.

    The first Solstice obviously wormed his way into everyone's hearts as he has been replaced by an identical cat twice now and features everywhere as part of the logo and advertising.

    I also think Hulmes 2 next door is cat free. It looks lovely there too.Though the recently married Norman, who owns Hulmes, and his lovely wife now live downstairs, he told us that the top floor of Hulmes next door is still available for guests.

    Did you enjoy your stay at Hulmes Court? What did you think of Dunedin?

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    I have also been a repeat visitor to Hulmes, & met Sol II and Jimmy. How nice that Norman is recently married! It was a nice touch when he would visit in the mornings. I have recommended Hulmes here on Fodors. They provide some nice extras. The guest computers, laundry, free parking (if you can get down that driveway!),cat visits, great location (except for the hill), and all those NZ videos and books. Dunedin has some great museums, the train station as you mentioned, golf courses, of course the wildlife nearby. One year I missed seeing the Austral lights..it was too cold to go outside that night!

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    Hi mlgb,
    Are you a New Zealander and lucky enough to return often to Hulmes Court?

    I'd go back to Dunedin and Hulmes Court like a shot! Lovely place and , as you say , lots of nice touches.Norman is a very nice bloke as you say.

    Norman and his wife were returning from their honeymoon the day we arrived but were not as fortunate as us. The bad weather caused them to have to land in Christchurch followed by a 5 hour bus trip so they didn't get in until the early hours of the morning!

    You would love the new Solstice as he is even friendlier than the former Solstices.I think Jimmy gets a little tired of his exuberance though. But they are so sweet sleeping together!

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    Returning to Dunedin has been a pleasure worth waiting for. I again enjoy

    “The Olveston experience”.


    Olveston , a perfectly preserved Edwardian house , also proves just “Wow” inspiring and it has a great gift shop with some real bargains too. If the house is full of treasures , then the gift shop is a small treasure trove too. Don't miss the gardens and the vintage car either.


    You can only do this house by tour but it really is the best way as the guide fills you in on the wonderful family who lived here, including the mountain-climbing, adventure-loving spinster who willed it to the city. Everything, including all the appliances are authentic and used by her until her death. Unlike you or me who would have chucked that noisy old fridge, she kept everything as it was knowing that ,one day, it would prove fascinating to future gawkers. And she was right!


    We also go to the Albotross reserve but it's a bad day to see them but a good day to see seagulls. Most days are excellent to see seagulls. We then enjoy the lovely harbour drive to the Castle. How very Scottish loch-like is the drive there so I can well understand the attraction home-sick Scots would have felt for this area.


    In a similar manner as Liechtenstein castle in Bavaria, which to me is one of man's most lovely creations in one of God's most beautiful settings, Lanarch Castle is also is a lovely structure set in the spectacular Otago Bay. Climb the stairs to the roof for the view and don't forget your camera. The vast bedroom of the lady of the house has fabulous furniture but take note of the bare, basic cupbourd of a room that the Nanny called home. I won't describe it all too much more as it has to be seen.


    The Botanic Gardens are a gem too. The aviary was a treat with it's friendly and adorable native birds. We also really enjoyed the whimsical statues with their Peter Pan theme. The daffodils were out when we were there and we stumbled upon a real Wordsworth moment. We wandered up the hill and there before us, under a massive spreading tree, was a golden carpet. I have included the poem as it is so very right. If you have ever seen massed daffs you will understand this poem.


    "Daffodils" (1804)

    I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud

    That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

    When all at once I saw a crowd,

    A host, of golden daffodils;

    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    Continuous as the stars that shine

    And twinkle on the Milky Way,

    They stretch'd in never-ending line

    Along the margin of a bay:

    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

    The waves beside them danced; but they

    Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

    A poet could not but be gay,

    In such a jocund company:

    I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
    What wealth the show to me had brought:

    For oft, when on my couch I lie

    In vacant or in pensive mood,

    They flash upon that inward eye

    Which is the bliss of solitude;

    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils.

    By William Wordsworth (1770-1850).



    On our last day, we returned to the Art Gallery coffee shop. My sister said she had a special treat for me and , with great aplomb pulled out a small paper bag. Inside was a lone, small chocolate. She said that she had been to a chocolate shop filled with vast displays of little treats all piled up with a price tag underneath. The truffles looked especially good and were labelled $1.90 NZ. "I'll have $1.90's worth of those." she asked and watched incredulously while the shopkeeper doled out ONE chocolate! She was expecting more than that!


    Reminds me of our last day in Singapore where we decided to blow the last of our cash on chocolates. We chose one of each from the display ,only about a dozen of them, but had to use Mastercard to pay for them! Priceless! I put these little tempters in the same category as whatever is in a hotel mini bar now. Way beyond the budget of the average human.


    The trip home was every bit as awful as getting there though I learned my lesson and did not attempt any more cutlery smuggling. But again staff were a marvelous help with Mum and Dad. I can't emphasize enough how indispensable they were.


    I did find the stopover at Brisbane airport both ways added to the drama and I would attempt to find a straight through flight next time. Having to change planes was very tiring and made worse by having to change terminals from domestic to international.This necessitated a short train trip, which again,was made bearable by excellent staff assistance, but still quite difficult for disabled persons. A group from Nandi, on their way to a disability conference in Darwin, also found it hard going with one young lady having a fall transferring from the airport wheelchair.


    I think I would have found it easier on my own but it is still hard. Many times we were just not sure where to go and would have appreciated staff with direction signs especially helpful for disabled persons who may find it difficult to remember directions. This especially applies to me. Give me a list of directions such as "Turn right at the next corner.Go 100 yards and turn left at coffee shop then go down 2 levels using the elevator and then go straight ahead" And all I hear is "Turn right ...then....Blah,blah ,blah. blah !"


    Another thing I did not like was the departure tax from Dunedin airport of $25NZ per person. I thought this was now usually included in the ticket price. An unexpected bill made even worse by the long queue to purchase. No time for a quick snack or coffee for me!


    Sydney airport also lived up to its bad reputation. On leaving for the pick up area, loaded down with souvenirs and luggage , two elderly tired people who can't walk too well , there seemed no way to cross the street to the pickup area! A long unbroken line of taxis were going by and it was very difficult to cross . There seemed to be no marked crossing. My sister ended up tentatively moving onto the street and putting up her hand and indicating my Mum and her walker but the taxi driver did not stop and neither did any of the others.


    Would I do it all again? I hope not ...but probably would or at least be talked into it. Was it worth it? Definitely! My Mum had a great time, my sister loved it all and my Dad had a good sleep! Priceless!

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    Hi Kerryajs1, I live near Los Angeles. I save up my airline miles and would fly to NZ every few years for 20 years! I like 1) English Language 2)Golf 3)Nature and Scenery & lots of variety in a short distance 4) Wine 5)Interesting towns and 6)Friendly People. Used to be #7 "Good Value" unfortunately I have to scratch that last point since the US Dollar got so weak.

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