Speight’s Brewery on Rattray Street

Nearly 150 years ago, a man named James Speight, while feeling a little thirsty, decided to see what would happen if he mixed a few malt and hops together. Encouraged by friends Charles Greenslade and William Dawson, his newly created beverage was given the name of Speight’s and a brewery setup on Dunedin’s Rattray Street. A location that has been home to the popular draught amber ale ever since.

The Monarch Wildlife Tours

The Monarch Wildlife Tours

It was one of those idle afternoons where while there was plenty I should probably be doing, I’d put it all to one side and went off for an adventure instead. I’d been exploring the Harington Point gun emplacements on Otago Peninsula. A site that was first constructed in response to the threat of a Russian invasion in 1885. Following this, I had made my way down to the shoreline where I had a lovely time trying not to trip over! At some point in between swells, The Monarch came chugging along on one of its wildlife tours. I don’t think they were hoping for someone looking a little unbalanced, trying not to slip into the water but then every trip has a highlight!

Buckingham Street

Buckingham Street

If there’s one change that would instantly improve Arrowtown it would be to completely pedestrianise the main street of Buckingham Street. So, it was with interest that I recently read that the local council ran a trial closing the street to traffic. In a town that is quickly becoming overrun with vehicles, it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds. 

Flour Power

Flour Power by Regan Gentry

Leaving Hagley Park, I crossed the Avon River and strolled along Rolleston Avenue before turning left onto Worcester Street. Passing the Christchurch Arts Centre while dodging trams, I continued until somehow met the Avon River again. From there, I found my way to Cathedral Square where I enjoyed a quiet moment or two taking in the various sculptures that are scattered around. One of which, located across from the Cathedral on the corner of Colombo and Hereford Street at the beginning of a pedestrian mall is a sculpture titled Flour Power by Regan Gentry. Gifted to the city in 2008, the steel structure stands an impressive 15 metres high and is kinda fun to stand under!


Aramoana view.

To get to this vantage point its a bit of a hike. Not difficult, just awkward more than anything else. That’s because I had to slog my way uphill through dense sand dunes that were heavily overgrown. The problem that created was that I couldn’t always see where I was stepping. However, the uphill struggle was worth the effort because the views from the small rocky ledge were very rewarding.

Otago Harbour At Dawn

Otago Harbour – Buy 

How I like still, clear and undisturbed water on a tranquil morning. There’s something rather soothing about looking out across a lake, harbour or ocean that is as calm as a mill pond. It’s a very positive feeling. It makes me think that today everything is going to be ok, the sun will shine and it’ll only get better from this point. 


Racecourse Road – Buy 

Heading south from Christchurch, it was around Ashburton that I became curious what might be down some of the side roads that detour off State Highway 1. After crossing the Ashburton River, I then passed through the towns of Winslow, Hinds, Ealing and Rangitata before succumbing to temptation and near the town of Orari turned down Racecourse Road. From there, I discovered some Railway Tracks, a Trotting Club, a Golf Club and eventually the town of Geraldine which is referred to as one of New Zealand’s most underrated stopover destinations. It is also one of the few locations where you can see the native long-tail bat.

Honouring The Māori Battalion

Whare Maumahara

During World War II the name Te Rau Aroha was given to a mobile canteen truck, which was sent from New Zealand to Māori Battalion soldiers who served on the battlefields overseas between 1940 and 1945. Once near the front, the canteen became a place for soldiers to gather and hear the latest news broadcasts, while enjoying home sweet treats and comforts from home. Almost 3600 men served with the Māori Battalion, of which 649 were killed in action, 1712 were wounded and 237 were prisoners of war.

So, when a name had to be chosen for a new museum in the Treaty Grounds honouring the Māori Battalion, naming it after the treasured Te Rau Aroha canteen truck seemed a logical choice. Now, there aren’t many places that I would legitimately call humbling, however the Te Rau Aroha Museum is one of them.

The Haast River

The Haast River

It really is hard to describe just how heavy the rain was while driving through the Haast Pass. The previous evening, while staying in Makarora the rain had started sometime during the night. By morning it had only gotten harder on the succeeding drive through the Haast Pass to the West Coast. Once there, I discovered the rain had only managed to get more intense. So, several hours later I found myself travelling back through the Haast Pass on my way to Makarora, passing swollen rivers and substantial waterfalls.

The Rongomai Track

The Waihema

As the track continued, a thought suddenly crossed my mind. Maybe the reason I’ve never heard of this place is because no one ever ventures out alive? Such are the dangers of the New Zealand bush or walking tracks for that matter. You not only have to survive the traffic just to get there, but when you do, there’s water obstacles, hunters and wild animals to elude. What a glorious country this is!

The Haunting Of The Vulcan Hotel

The Vulcan Hotel in St Bathans

I stayed here one night and almost had the place to myself. I’m not sure what I would have done if it was busy. It was the perfect spot to process a few photos over a pint or two of Speight’s. Apart from a Grandfather and Grandson at the end of the bar happily sharing tales about fish and a lady in the dining room, it was a very quiet night. They certainly didn’t mind me setting up my camera for a photo before the landlady told me about the local ghost.

The story goes that many young ladies came to the Otago gold fields seeking employment in grog tents, bars, and dance halls that sprang up all over the region. At the time, it was thought that a lady could earn a substantial wage on the gold fields, and thus create a better life for themselves. So when a lady called Rose started working in the area as a prostitute near the town of St Bathans, she most likely wasn’t alone. During her time in the area, Rose worked at the dance halls while also renting a room at the Vulcan Hotel at night to see male clients. Having collected a small amount of gold in payment, one night a male client of Rose strangled her, robbed her of her gold and threw her body into the nearby lake. 

The killer was never found and to this day the restless ghost of Rose haunts the Vulcan Hotel and particular male gentlemen who stay in the famous Room 1.

Return To Lan Yuan

Lan Yuan Dunedin Chinese Garden

Strolling through the enchanting pathways of Dunedin’s Chinese Garden, I marveled at the serene beauty and cultural richness that surrounded me. With every step, I was astonished at the meticulous craftsmanship of the traditional architecture, ornate pavilions and graceful bridges that seemed to whisper tales of ancient wisdom. As I walked, my eye caught the intricate details of the garden’s, from the delicate arrangement of rocks to the harmonious balance of flora and water. Immersed in an oasis of calm, I couldn’t help but reflect on the timeless connection between nature and humanity.

The Captain Cook Hotel

The Captain Cook Hotel

One of my autumn strolls around the North Dunedin area took me past the famous Captain Cook Tavern which sits on the corner of Albany and Great King Streets. In recent years it’s been open, shut, reopened, rebranded and sold, forever changing the hotel from being what made it famous. Which was, being one of the most famous student bars in the country. In the 1980’s when the Dunedin music scene became famous for the development of ‘The Dunedin Sound’ The Captain Cook Hotel was an important location where bands played. These days the upstairs is an event space with the downstairs being the site of Sal’s Pizza restaurant.

Street Art On Sullivan Street.

Street Art by Mahalski ’17’

I haven’t been for a good, spontaneous ramble around the local streets in a while. In fact, when I think about it, it always seems to be around this time of year that I get the urge to simply go wandering without a set purpose. So it was, on a decidedly chilly morning in May I found myself roaming the streets of South Dunedin looking for nothing particularly yet knowing what I was looking for, when I found it.

Tobins Track In Autumn

Tobins Track in autumn

Before I change direction away from autumn, I thought I’d show you a few more images that haven’t been posted on my daily photo blog. This is one I took on my Arrowtown trip while wandering the autumnal Arrowtown paths (Tobins Track) near the river and Chinese Village. It really is a colour overload at times. By the time you leave the path and head back towards the town, your eyes take a few seconds to adjust from seeing colours apart from yellow, orange and the occasional red! Is that what colour theory is?   

The University of Otago

The University of Otago

There are times when I feel like the University of Otago has become one giant machine that is set on city wide domination. However, at its heart is a wonderful institution that dates right back to the early days of the original European early settlers. In fact, if we should thank anyone for  the University of Otago, it should probably be Thomas Burns and James Macandrew. It was them that urged the Otago Provincial Council during the 1860s to set aside land in the region for an institute of higher education.

The Dunedin Gasworks Museum

Condenser Tower

On a different occasion, I visited the Dunedin Gasworks Museum. A place that still has a bit of rustic charm! The only drawback being that if you’re not interested in the manufacturing, treatment, pumping and storage of gas then you’re going to find it a little boring. Actually, very boring! Yet, it’s a very significant heritage site as it’s one of only three known preserved gaswork museums in the world. For my visit to the Gasworks Museum I had anticipated a good hour would give me enough time to take everything in. However, after 30 minutes I decided I just wasn’t that interested in gas!

Olveston – The Ballroom

Olveston – Ballroom.

Having spent the time rambling around the museum, I ventured up into the Dunedin hill suburbs to the stately home of Olveston. Spread over 1 acre of land, an original eight-room villa was purchased by the Theomin family on the Royal Terrace site in 1881. Twenty years later they bought an adjacent property and in 1904 they acquired another. This allowed the family to plan the building of a new house and garden over the three properties. Once the new home was completed in 1907, the four storey building featured reception rooms, a library, a kitchen, downstairs guest rooms, a galleried hall rising from the ground and to the upper floors which also served as a ballroom. There was a billiard room, a card room, numerous bedrooms, with the top floor being servants’ quarters and the basement serving as a large laundary. When I arrived, I was a little early for the next tour. So, I filled the time wandering around the lovely gardens which at one stage featured a substantial rose garden.

Former Police Cottage In Arowtown.

Butlers Green and the former Police cottage

On my last morning in Arrowtown I went for a stroll along the Arrow River Bridges Trail which on my way back, linked onto Tobins Track. A trail that gently ambles its way alongside the Arrow River. When the town came into view, I made my way up onto the Village Green before headlong on Buckingham Street. From there, I took in the view that looks out over Butlers Green to the Chinese Village and the Arrow River. From that vantage point hidden amongst the trees is a former Police Cottage. Built in 1863, the old Police hut is the oldest surviving wooden building in Arrowtown and originally located in Cardigan Street, it formed part of the Arrowtown Police Camp during the gold rush.

The ‘Tiger Tea’ Bus

The ‘Tiger Tea’ Bus

The trouble with modern museums is that they are beautifully presented with only selected exhibits on display that get rotated occasionally. Usually the exhibits are placed with a detailed information board with lots of space and around the item for the eye to take everything in. Personally, I prefer museums that are presented like a hall cupboard. Stuffed full of things that you have to spend hours sorting through before finding what you’re looking for. The fun part is generally on the way to the back of the cupboard you get a pleasant surprise by finding something you lost years ago. I wish museums took on this philosophy.


Josephine at Toitu Early Settlers Museum

The first thing that greets you at Toitu Early Settlers Museum is a steam train called Josephine. One of two Double Fairlie locomotives that were imported from England, Josephine started life on the Dunedin-Port Chalmers Railway in 1872. She went on to serve on trainway lines all over the country. Until around the time of 1917 when she was sent to the scrap heap. After spending several years outside rusting away, she was eventually restored, moved indoors and now sits proudly on display in the foyer of Toitu Early Settlers Museum for all to see.

Lower Stuart Street

Traffic Lights on Lower Stuart Street

Leaving the Octagon, having completed everything I wanted to do for the day by 7am, I rewarded myself by going in search of breakfast. For no other reason than for my own amusement, I found a cafe where I could sit in the window and watch cars drive through red lights at an intersection.

Sitting and watching the world go by from my window seat, it really was quite astonishing and somewhat scary how complacent some drivers were. It was almost as if stopping at red lights had become optional! On one occasion I watched a car stop at a red light, pause while a bus went through and then simply carry on through the intersection without a care in the world. The behaviour of drivers was simply mind boggling, yet unfortunately not unexpected. A few years ago a study was conducted around Christchurch at 15 intersections across the city. What they found was that drivers ignored red lights 8170 times in a 24 hour period. That averages out to a staggering 340 times per hour that red lights were being disregarded, and that’s only at 15 intersections in Christchurch. Extend that out across the country and it becomes of pandemic proportions! To combat this a Regional Red Light Running campaign was launched whose main message was “Good drivers stop at red traffic lights”. Which in itself is just as mind boggling as I thought stopping at red lights was the law! Not just something that “good drivers” do! What is even more interesting is that failing to stop at a red light incurs a $150 fine. Compare that to the local Dunedin bylaw where failure to remove your dog droppings carries a $300 fine. Now it might just be me, but something seems out of balance there!

All of this occupied me in my window seat for some time. Long enough in fact for me to finish several cups of coffee and a fully cooked breakfast. All while observing the poor driving behaviour of my fellow citizens and a few ill-tempered and hostile Sea Gulls that were very angry at each other for one reason or another. Not fully aware of what the time was, I checked my watch and noticed to my surprise that a few local museums would be opening in the not too distant future. So, on that happy note I paid, thanked my hosts and headed off in the direction of Toitu Museum.

The Octagon

The Octagon 

On one occasion, I ventured into the city centre early one morning before everything became ‘used’ for the day. My altera motive was to see the Octagon, the scene of a recent unexpected set of circumstances.  An out-of-control truck and trailer had taken a scenic detour down Stuart Street and through the central Octagon several days earlier, narrowly avoiding the famed Robbie Burns statue before crashing through a covered walkway and decorating the whole area with a lovely assortment of wood chips. In celebration, a wide variety of orange road cones had been placed all around the unplanned route the truck had taken through the city centre, giving the whole place a scattered look.

Archibald Baxter Peace Garden

Archibald Baxter Peace Garden

So each day, without much planning I did things I hadn’t done in a long time. I strolled through parks and public gardens. I explored alleyways and lanes that detoured off empty back streets. I went to museums, exhibitions, and art galleries that I saw advertised on flyers hanging to lamp posts. I sat in Maggie’s cafe drinking coffee while watching people walk past. I went on self-guided heritage walks and admired forgotten pieces of architecture. I ambled around looking approvingly at pieces of street-art on the side of buildings. I sat in the Archibald Baxter Peace Garden that honours all New Zealand’s conscientious and quietly watched the world go by. I took the time to read plaques on footpaths that mark spots of historical significance. I even read all the plaques in the upper Octagon that make up the Dunedin Writers’ Walk as part of the UNESCO City of Literature.

Jubilee Park

Jubilee Park

Thanks to a mostly empty calendar, I had several weeks at my disposal, in a fictitious kind of way. The only thing I really had to do was stay close to home in Dunedin, so as long as I didn’t go on any long overnight expeditions the time was my own. I could do anything I liked, within reason.

I decided, quite randomly, to start with a walk through Jubilee Park in the city’s town belt. This was something I had been meaning to do for a while. I’d also been wondering for some time if Queen Victoria knew she had a park named after her in Dunedin? Further to this, I wondered if there’s an official royal list that identifies every world park, estate, playground, garden and forest that is named after a royal? I’m sure that if Queen Victoria knew that Jubilee Park was named after her, she would have been quite delighted. Anyway, Dunedin’s Jubilee Park was once known as Tomlinson’s Paddock before it was renamed Jubilee Park after Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. It was here that I spent a lovely morning happily wandering the various paths that twisted and turned through the bush that makes up a section of the city’s town belt. 

The route I took made its way from the car park, through a dense line of trees that circumferenced a football ground. The bank on one side was high and steep with a heavy line of trees that sloped up to the sports field, while the other side quickly slipped down to a nearby road. As the path led further into the bush, the canopy of trees widened and grew thick. Occasionally it would split, leaving me with a choice of going left or right. Sometimes the light would drop, hidden by the thick foliage. Other times the sunlight would stream through the trees and bounce off the autumn vegetation. 

The path drew to a junction where three of four different paths met and the fallen leaves had overtaken the forest floor. Surveying my options, I could either head down the hill toward a path I hadn’t yet explored, or follow the path I was on to the top of the hill, back to the sports ground and eventually my car. I stood and looked at my surroundings, from time to time leaves would fall and land both on me and near me. At this moment, I realised I wasn’t quite ready to be back at my car just yet, so I headed down hill. The next hour or so was spent in this manner. Walking paths I hadn’t walked in a very long time, criss-crossing my way around Jubilee Park and the nearby town belt in the glistening afternoon sun.

The Manuka Gorge

The Manuka Gorge

I drove through places that had names like Shingle Creek, Roxburgh, Beaumont, Lawrence and Waitahuna to name a few. Places that were born out of the search for farmland or from the discovery of gold, often a little of both. As I wound my way over the countryside I couldn’t help but think of the extraordinary efforts people had made to traverse the landscape on foot. Often walking in the bitter coldness of winter or the extreme heat of summer. The trek to the gold fields on ‘The Dunstan Range’ and the Molyneux River took nearly a week to complete. It was as daunting as it was physically gruelling and completed while carrying close to 40 kilograms of equipment on their back. Something that is impressive by anyone’s standard.

I had time to ponder all this as I found myself stuck behind a tractor! As were about ten other vehicles until the driver had the good sense to pullover, before he was forced! Now travelling at a quicker clip, eventually we left the barren countryside of Central Otago behind and dropped down onto the more lush surrounds of the Clutha District and further beyond to Dunedin.


The Alexandra Bridge

The drive through to Alexandra was simply marvellous. In fact, there was only one word that could describe the day, and that is ‘delicious’. Everywhere I looked, everything had a radiant autumnal glow as the sun hung in a rich blue sky that reflected off the shop windows as I drove past. The whole town had a relaxed, lazy sort of feel. It was almost as if no one was in a hurry to do anything at all. I was certain that if at that moment a meteorite the size of texas had come hurtling out of the sky and headed straight towards this spot, all the town residents would have casually looked up at the sky and said, “well, would you look at that”. 

As I passed through the town, I suddenly decided to detour to look at the former town bridge, a structure that is a true feat of skill and engineering. Built in 1882, the remains sit right next to the newer version that spans the Clutha River. Beyond the bridges, the banks of the river were lined with autumn colour that was reflecting off the water. I wished I had longer to enjoy my current surroundings, however time was now starting to press against me and I really did need to get back to Dunedin. I vowed to return at some point to do the place justice.