At this point we needed a boast in morale and St. Patrick’s Day was just the perfect occasion. Down the hill from our hostel in Dunedin was Murphy’s Pub. And this is where it all happened, on March 17th 2008: green beer, Irish music, dancing and … well, lots of drinking, of course! It was our real first night out in months and we truly enjoyed it, especially since it was so easy chatting up people in the pub. After this social event, we ventured out to explore Dunedin’s historic and cultural assets.
Although we must have been in hundreds of old mansions on our travels, we are still attracted by them and always excited. This time it was “The Olveston”, designed by a London architect for the Theomin family, who made their fortune importing musical instruments and clocks to New Zealand.
When this mansion was finished in 1904, it was not only exquisitely furnished, but had the most modern gadgets you can image: in-house telephone, central heating, a combined shower and bathtub (the hot and cold water tabs could be operated with your feet while in the tub) and what about a bean slicer… What we liked most were the many sophisticated “souvenirs” the family brought back from their trips to Asia and Europe: the most amazing paintings and artefacts. The family itself was not only business-orientated but a great supporter of the art, with the daughter being a very talented painter and photographer.
Not less impressive was the Otago Museum, with the most extensive displays of Maori carvings and samples of artefacts from all Polynesian cultures. Fascinating also the exhibits of local fauna and flora: who would guess that originally the bat was the only mammal on land in New Zealand? Who has come within 10 centimetres of a Moa, this giant bird that became extinct about 500 years ago? The Moa was so realistically presented! Everything is so well displayed that we kept going on although we were exhausted.
On our last day in Dunedin, we strolled through the huge Botanic Garden under blue skies and balmy temperatures. Slowly, we started to take on a more positive attitude to our new destination.