Travel

Dunedin, capital of ‘wildlife’

Even though it could sound incredible to many since they never heard about it, Dunedin is one of the biggest cities in the world.

If you google ‘world’s largest cities by territorial area’, surely you’ll never find the name of Dunedin, because the information you’ll find on the internet regarding the dimensions of the cities are often referred to communal territories, provinces and such, and we have to do more careful researches in order discover how things really are.

On the contrary, talking about Dunedin and taking into consideration the city itself, we can see that this city has a territory that is almost three times New York’s, and it would be certainly considered as one of the world’s top 10 and maybe also in the top 5, if only this kind of rank would be used.

However, even it wouldn’t be so, Dunedin wouldn’t need to be known as great in dimensions, because it’s great in many other ways. Now I will just scratch the surface of them do my best to show you.

This city of little English and little Maori name is settled in the Gulf of Otago, in the southern part of the South Island, and it is one of the southernmost cities of the planet and nearest to Antarctic. It is known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand; its name is, in fact, the one of Edinburgh in Gaelic, given by the Scots at the time of their conquer during mid 19th Century. It’s one of the cities of British conquer which has best preserved its Victorian and Edwardian culture heritage, the similarities with English culture and still keeping its unique and wild nature.

Now I’m going to relate some of the most interesting and original things that you can see in Dunedin.

I want to begin with the Railway Station because I find it a real masterpiece of architecture, and I’m not the only one who thinks so since it’s the most photographed building, and maybe the most majestic, in all New Zealand.

Among all the information that I’ve personally found more relevant, I couldn’t leave out the Larnarch Castle, the only New Zealander castle, known especially for its 14 acres of lawn, and because of that of international importance.

A must see is definitely this:

It is, how you can see by the writing on the signboard, Baldwin Street, that I suppose it is rather interesting to see but less enjoyable to walk through: it is the world’s steepest residential street, probably no good for running uphill and shopping bags. The road slope is 35%. Now I want to show you a house first shot “normally”, meaning with the photographer just standing, and then with the road slope.

Now we can go to one of my favorite parts, that are the gardens, of which Dunedin, also because of the of hugeness of its area, it’s rich. One of the most known is the Dunedin Chinese Garden, the first Chinese garden of the Southern Hemisphere.

As the Chinese garden, also famous and imposing it’s the Dunedin Botanic Garden, the oldest botanic garden of New Zealand (born in 1863): 28 acres wherein you can find more than 6000 species of plants and many native birds.

Beside these two, I mention for instance the Glenfalloch Woodland Garden and the l’Hereweka Garden; not for nothing Dunedin’s been defined the ‘Garden City’ too.

And now, my absolute favorite part, that regards the natural beauties of Dunedin, partly focusing on the great variety of exotic birds, among which are the ones that human consider funniest, the penguins.

I’ve read that James Cook was attracted to this place because of the penguins and seals’ colonies that he had seen on the coast; well, of course now, years later, things are not changed and, in spite of the industrialization and the development, the natural heritage of this city, like the rest of New Zealand, has remained almost untouched.

I begin saying that 13 of the 18 species of known penguins have been seen in New Zealand. Of these 13 I don’t know how many still live there, but I’ll share with you about two of them, the ones we could easily find in some Dunedin’s beaches.

I give priority to the smallest: it’s the Little Blue Penguin, in maori korora, not only the smallest of the two but it’s the smallest existing penguin: tall just 25cm, and weights only 1 kg.

The other is the Yellow-Eyed Penguin  (maori: hoiho), half sized, one of the world’s rarest. This one, together with many other species of birds, it’s visible at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary (20km from Dunedin’s centre), eco-sanctuary where we can find other extremely rare birds too, like kiwis, visible at night.

Now that we are done with penguins, we can start to talk about another bird which Dunedin is proud of: the world’s biggest sea bird, the majestic albatross, with its three meters of wingspan, of which the Royal Albatross Centre,  situated at Taiaroa Head, has got the only place in the world where we can still find albatrosses in their natural habitat.

In colonies, besides penguins, we can also find the Fur Seal, which is him:

Dunedin also has astonishingly beautiful beaches, such as Tunnel Beach (few kilometers from the city center) and St. Claire (the most famous one).

There are many other things that we can see in Dunedin, regarding art, history, nature, culture, that I’ve left at the end even though they’re very important. Known and very appreciated are the Dunedin Public Art Gallery; the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, museum of social history of the Otago; the University of Otago, the biggest centre of academic education of the country, with its amazing clock; the Otago Museum; St. Paul’s Cathedral; First Church; the theater; Olveston House; George Street, good for shopping, and much more.

And, last but not least, for beer’s lovers, Speight’s Brewery… Beer’s Brewery where it is possible (or I should say necessary?) to do a complete tour in order to understand how it is produced and, obviously, to taste the results.

We haven’t talked about the most famous place of the planet. We haven’t talked about the place people yearn to go the most, and neither about the most expensive, and not even about the most visited. I anyways think it’s for a good reason.

The fact that such a big city has so little inhabitants and that it could maintain its purity and cleanness maybe didn’t allow it to be an international success. Still, Dunedin has what many others overcrowded and polluted cities will never have anymore. Dunedin let its own simplicity and purity to survive. It decided to stay big and beautiful taking in what nature and history had to offer, without the feeling necessity of overbuilding in order to get some recognition, without the necessity of demolishing and without any exaggerations.

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