Following in the footsteps of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in Dunedin is as easy as 1-2-3.
Take one of Dunedin Railway’s world class train trips into the rocky Taieri Gorge or around Otago’s spectacular coast. You may be sitting in the carriage where the Royals sat when the Royal train transported them from Mosgiel to Dunedin.
Explore Dunedin’s magnificent 107 year old Railway Station, the home of Dunedin Railway, and the arrival point for the Royals in Dunedin. They quickly emerged into Anzac Square to meet the locals, but you will have time to explore the station’s over the top booking hall with its elaborate decoration and superb tiled floor. Stand back and admire the gingerbread exterior of the building and know that you’re taking a pic of the most photographed building in the country.
Look across to the stately stone Courthouse and the former Dunedin Prison with its barred windows, then head left and walk under the cherry trees to Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. This is where the city showcases objects, images and archives from its past in an inviting glass fronted building which incorporates the latest in museum technology. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were particularly impressed with the gallery where the walls are lined with portraits of the earliest pioneer settlers in Otago.
Ready for lunch? The luxury Distinction Hotel has just opened in the former Chief Post Office in Princes St, a short walk across Queens Garden, past the statue of Queen Victoria. Parcels Restaurant in the former Parcels Room in Water St, boasts “local, free-range and organic produce”, Prince Charles’ favourites. The foundation stone of the Art Deco Chief Post Office was laid in 1935 by the Prince’s great uncle, Prince Henry Duke, of Gloucester.
Turn right and saunter along Princes St, admiring the strip of glorious 19th century buildings including the imposing Bank of New Zealand. In the Octagon you can access one gigabit per second broadband courtesy of GigCity. Alas the Royals didn’t have the opportunity to tweet from here but you can.
In the Octagon you may notice a benevolent 18th century Scottish poet looking down from his stone plinth. It’s Robbie Burns, composer of Auld Lang Syne and uncle of Thomas Burns, one of the founders of Dunedin. Follow the Writers’ Walk around the Octagon and read the plaques commemorating the work of the many celebrated writers who have lived here. Dunedin is a UNESCO City of Literature, and the Duchess of Cornwall was treated to a reception at the University of Otago where she met local authors, poets and university staff. Literary festivals, author talks, superb libraries and bookshops are all a major feature of Dunedin life and very accessible for visitors.
Visit the 307 hectare Orokonui Ecosanctuary a short drive north of Dunedin, where the Royals enjoyed an encounter with an ancient tuatara (New Zealand’s prehistoric reptile). This forested wildlife sanctuary is fully enclosed with a fence to keep all predators out, enabling birds and other creatures to thrive in a safe environment. It’s one of several very successful Dunedin wildlife conservation initiatives, and a must for bird nerds. Also unmissable for bird lovers is the Royal Albatross Centre on the Otago Peninsula.
Feature; Suzanne Middleton
Photo Credit: Ian Telfer/Radio NZ