The Octagon In Dunedin

The Octagon in Dunedin

My destination was St Paul’s Cathedral which today stands on the northern edge of The Octagon. However, back in the 1850’s after Otago was first settled, if the Anglican Church community’s vision had come to pass, the Cathedral would now be sitting directly in the middle of the Octagon. When the plans for Dunedin city were first laid out in 1846, space for an Octagonal reserve was left in the city centre. A few years later, while the Anglican community were looking for a location to build a church, they decided the central Octagonal Reserve would be an excellent site and applied directly to the Governor-General for permission to build. One group that wasn’t happy with this idea was the Presbyterian community and when they found out about the building plans, all hell broke loose. In fact, the public outcry was so large that the Otago Superintendent William Cargil had to step in to sortout the mess. The result was the Anglican Church of St Paul’s Cathedral was moved to its now northern locale. Which, if you stand on its steps, has a pretty commanding view.

Centre Place Laneway In Melbourne

Centre Place in Melbourne

The other day I mentioned that I didn’t take nearly as many vertical photos as horizontal ones. With that statement in mind, I went looking for some unpublished vertical images to prove to myself that I actually did take them. This is one I found taken on the streets in Melbourne, Centre Place laneway to be precise. I always thought it was called Degraves Lane, however it seems that Degraves Lane is just across the road and this one has a completely different name. Either way, both lanes are filled with amazing places to eat, featuring cuisine from all over the world.

Bubble Man At The Kerikeri Mission

Bubbles at the Kerikeri Mission

For those of you that like statistics, today’s photo was taken over 18,000 kilometres away from yesterday’s. While yesterday’s was taken while walking alongside the River Liffey in Dublin, today’s was taken at the Kerikeri Mission in Whangarei. Home to the oldest European buildings in the country. The Mission is set in a sleepy basin on a riverbank, surrounded by orchards and flowerbeds. While I was there, this man was making these massive bubble creations that really were rather impressive. They also had the added bonus of entertaining the kids.    

Across the River Liffey

Apartments on Wolfe Tone Quay in Dublin

Back to the streets of Dublin and looking across the River Liffey from Victoria Quay. This shot made me think, I don’t actually take a lot of vertical shots anymore. My first thought is always to shoot horizontally. Maybe that is something I should change.

Swanson Street In Melbourne

Painted Vinyl on Swanson Street

I spent a pleasant afternoon in Melbourne, wandering its busy streets and narrow alleyways before and after lunch, admiring the Yarra River, its modern skyscrapers, historic architecture, bustling laneways and looking forward very much to seeing it in the evening. I like Melborune, partly because it is very walkable and easy to navigate thanks to all the bridges across the river, but mostly because of the trams.


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!

The Avon River In Christchurch

The Avon River in Christchurch

There are a great many things I’ve never wondered or thought about. Until recently, one of these was the meaning of the word ‘Avon’. I knew it was a popular name for a river, but it had never concerned me that it might actually mean something! My pondering about the word Avon took me down the intriguing rabbit hole of etymology. It seems that the name “Avon” is a Celtic word and survives from the Welsh word ‘afon’ meaning river. So, therefore we can say that Christchurch’s Avon River literally means ‘river river’.

Belfast’s Finest

The Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast

Once upon a time this Belfast pub had the reputation as one of the finest Victorian gin bars in the whole of the British Isles. Known as the Crown Liquor Saloon dating back to 1826 it features stained glass windows, mosaic tiling, an amazing carved ceiling. There are also 10 snugs that had gun metal plates for striking matches and an alarm bell system for patrons to alert staff for service. It’s a true masterpiece in bar design and architecture.

Corn Market In Belfast

Corn Market and Arthur Square in Belfast

If I went back to Belfast I would take a lot more photos than I did! It really is an interesting and fascinating city with something intriguing around every corner. On my wanderings I found this location, the corner of Corn Market and Arthur Square which is also an entrance to Victoria Square shopping mall and the location of the Spirit of Belfast art sculpture.  Personally, I couldn’t help but wonder about that street name, Corn Market. There must be some type of historical context to it.

The Bankers Bar In Dublin

The corner of Dame Lane & Trinity Street in Dublin.

While we are on the subject of photos from Dublin, this one I took while zigzagging through the city streets on a balmy evening in early January. I can’t remember where I was coming from, it might have been a restaurant. However, I do know I was heading for the Stags Head at the end of Dame Lane. A location where a tavern has existed in some shape or form since the 1780’s.

The Great Irish Hunger

The Irish Famine Sculptures of Dublin

This is another unpublished photo I came across. While in Dublin, I was walking alongside the River Liffey in the city’s Docklands on Custom House Quay. It was then that I came across the Irish Famine statues. An event that had a profound effect on Ireland and the worldwide Irish Community. There are a great many stories of the Great Irish Famine (1845-1849), many of which are hard to read due to the level of suffering that was involved.

One story is that of Rodger Cantwell and his family who survived the Irish famine that began in 1845. At the age of 30, living and working as farm laborer on the estate of Englisman George Fawcett in Toomevara, Tipperary, he and his wife Mary had come to rely on the potato as their main source of sustenance.

On a bleak October morning in 1845, after a prolonged period of heavy rain, he awoke to find a dense blue fog had settled over his fields. The air filled with the scent of decay. He was soon to discover, like his many neighbors, that his entire potato crop had been destroyed. For Rodger and his wife, the next few years were miserable. Often hungry, underweight and in ill health, the Indian corn and maize provided by the English as relief only managed to cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. To make matters worse, while the Irish farmers were starving, food exports to England that included oats, bacon, eggs, butter and beef continued. Eventually, many Irish farm laborers were dislodged from their homes by English landlords who hired crews to destroy their lodgings. Overnight, families found themselves starving and homeless. For people like Mary and Rodger, they joined the many waves of migrants fleeing starvation by immigrating overseas to places like America. 

Rodger and Mary Cantwell went on to settle in Rochester, New York before shifting to Milwaukee where they raised a family. Rodger eventually passed away at the age of 55 in 1870 while his wife Mary lived to the age 76. 

Following the Irish famine, between 1845 and 1855, the population of 8.2 million was reduced by one-third with 1 million dying of starvation and disease. Another 2 million emigrated to other countries. The Famine statues on Custom House Quay, are a somber and poignant commemoration of one of the most profound disasters in Irish history.

Daniel of Dublin

Daniel of Dublin

Amongst the jigsaw puzzle streets of Dublin that twist and turn across the city, you’ll find St Stephen’s Green. Within St Stephen’s Green, I found a man called Daniel. The few items that he was carrying with him were carefully placed on a park bench while he chatted to anyone who would stop by to talk. He was polite and friendly and spoke in a gravelly tone that told of a less than comfortable life on the streets of Dublin. He spoke of having many favourite spots in the city centre but this spot was by far his favourite. Manly because of how peaceful it is and the calmness of the place. Then just as he spoke they arrived, pigeons. Lots and lots of pigeons. 

It turns out that Daniel works for one of the homeless shelters in Dublin. Collecting money and donations, along with doing other ‘odds and ends’ that need to be done. But, what he really likes to do is feed the pigeons. As he threw seed out for them and gently poured it into the hands of strangers who stopped, the pigeons were quick to find the food source. In an instant, three to five pigeons were on heads, shoulders and arms, gently pecking. Suddenly, as quickly as they had arrived they were off into the sky. They swooped in a massive loop before landing in exactly the same spot and continuing their hunt for food.

Only then in the peace and beauty in Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green did he ask for a small donation.

Hotels In Hong Kong

The New Lucky Hotel

While looking through my unpublished photos I found this one from my time in Hong Kong. On the coroner of Nathan and Jordan Road in Kowloon, you’ll find the New Lucky Hotel and Hostel. Curious to find out what it is like, I went to the review section of Tripadvisor. If you want a good laugh, I’d recommend reading the poor reviews on Tripadvisor, it really is rather entertaining. On this occasion I discovered that New Lucky Hotel had 21 reviews, of which 14 were rated as Poor or Terrible. To sum up what guests had said, it seems that the place is alright for one night if everywhere else in Hong Kong is booked! Further to that, while it’s convenient and cheap, in general it’s a bit grotty, pretty horrible and should be avoided at all costs. Unless of course you’ve learned to live like an unwashed sardine before you arrive, then you’ll probably be ok.

Melbourne’s Evan Walker Bridge

The Evan Walker Bridge in Melbourne

Walking across the Evan Walker Bridge in Melbourne felt like stepping into a postcard where an urban landscape blends with a sense of whimsical charm. The Yarra River ambling its way past the city’s modern heart. On one side, Southbank’s bustling promenade with cafés and street performers, their eclectic sounds mingling in the air. On the other, the historic Flinders Street Station stands as a monument  to yesteryears, its yellow facade glowing in the afternoon sun. As I strolled, I could help but marvel at Melbourne’s effortless fusion of old and new.

The Brisbane River

The Brisbane River

I was never aware that the European settlement history of Queensland dates back to a penal settlement. However, I shouldn’t be surprised. I had always assumed once Britain stopped sending convicts to Australia, people started emigrating and one of the locations they chose is now the city of Brisbane. It turns out, this wasn’t the case. It seems that Queensland’s European history as a settlement started when the location of Brisbane was selected in 1825 as the location for a penal settlement for the more difficult convicts in New South Wales. Thus we have a situation where Britain was sending its undesirables to New South Wales in Australia, and they sent the convicts they didn’t want to Brisbane. Maybe that’s why the rest of Australia looks at Queenslanders being a little backwards. 

The Kurilpa Bridge

The Kurilpa Bridge in Brisbane

When a name was needed for Brisbane’s new $63 million bridge, a competition was held. Local residents could submit suggestions which they did in their thousands. Among the suggestions were Aboriginal words, maritime suggestions  and names linking the bridge to its location between Tank Street and Kurilpa Park near the State Library. On 23 November 2008 it was announced that the winning entry was Kurilpa Bridge. The name Kurilpa reflects the Australian Aboriginal word for the South Brisbane area, and means “place for water rats”.

Nathan Road In Kowloon

Nathan Road in Kowloon

Apparently Hong Kong’s 13th governor, Sir Matthew Nathan was quite influential. He must have been, after all he does have a road named after him. Yet, that wasn’t always the case. Nathan Road was originally called Robinson Road with the first section being completed in 1861, making it the first road built in Kowloon. However, due to the fact there was already a Robinson Road on Hong Kong Island, the name was changed to Nathan Road in 1909 to avoid confusion. These days Nathan Road is known as the Golden Mile. It is a must for shopping enthusiasts, it requires comfortable walking shoes, it can get very crowded and there’s always a hidden gem to be found.

Temple Street Night Market

Temple Street Night Market In Hong Kong

Not long after this, I ventured into the vibrant depths of Hong Kong’s Temple Street Night Market. You can wander through stalls that have everything from Chinese souvenirs, to arts and crafts. There’s electronics, clothing, jewellery, stationary, hair combs, bangles, bags, t-shirts, carvings and all sorts of nic-nacs. In fact, almost anything you’d like. There’s wall to wall street-food and just for good measure fortune tellers You could spend hours getting lost in the tents that line the streets that come alive after 9pm. It’s completely bizarre in a very fantastic way.

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!


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.