No other place in the world is so closely connected to Scotland as the town of Dunedin in New Zealand.
Founded by Scottish immigrants in 1848, Dunedin was born a humble settlement until it started prospering with the discovery, in 1861, of a gold mine in the vicinity. The gold rush made Dunedin's fortune.
Since then the town became the country's leader as an economic, commercial and industrial centre: there were born many of the largest companies in the areas of manufacturing, transportation and trade in New Zealand. The University is the most prestigious in the country, and being an University city is one of the strongest values of Dunedin.
Coordinates: 45.9° S, 170.5° E
Population: ~ 125 000
Dunedin became a cosmopolitan and sophisticated vitality that you would hardly expect in such a place, away from the rest of the world. And probably it's also the most elegant in the country, with many buildings of the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
The Scottish founders wanted to make of Dunedin the 'Edinburgh of the South'. Its name, in fact, was inspired by the castle of Edinburgh (in Gaelic 'Dun Eideann', Mount Odin). Moreover, there is an annual Dunedin Fringe Festival !
The traditions of the colony's founders homeland and the pride of parenting with Scotland remain so alive that the main statue in the central square is the locally venerated poet Robert Burns.
One of the most interesting things in Dunedin is the architectural unity. Many buildings - especially institutional ones - are constructed in local basalt (volcanic breccia) and white limestone, plus lush decoration and wrought-iron work.
The famous Railway Station:
A 1907 masterpiece, built without budget (" just build the best ! "). The Scottish architect George Troup sent Italian mosaic and granite columns from Europe by boat. The Flemish Renaissance-style façade alternates dark basalt and limestone, creating an wedding-cake like effect, common to other buildings in town.
Now the building is an icon of the city.
I can't help but wonder how the British exported to the other end of the world the best they had learned in terms of railroad building architecture.
The 'Taieri Gorge Railway' is one of the scenic train journeys departing from Dunedin's Railway Station (see below).
Some other examples:
The Fortune Theater occupyies presently a deactivated church built in victorian revivalist gothic style, in bluish basalt and limestone. One of the most active and frequented cultural venues, with a resident company.
The Law Courts, from 1899.
Perhaps the most accomplished of the Gothic Revival buildings in the city.
Larnach Castle, New Zealand's only one, erected between 1871 and 1887 for the Minister of Mines (gold, of course), who had an unfortunate end of life.
One of the most prestigious institutions is the huge Cadbury factory:
In the shopping streets, George Street and Princes Street, there are colourful façades, with cast or wrought-iron work.
Cafés, Europe's mark, are also present.
An originality that no visitor misses is the steepest street in the world (Guinness Book), Baldwin Street, with an inclination of 1 to 2.8, i.e. 36% :
Levelled house, sloping street...
...levelled street, sloping house.
Some images inside the Station :
Italian mosaic floors.
The Taieri Gorge Railway
Departing from Dunedin’s unique railway station, the Taieri Gorge Railway travels through the Taieri Plains and then climbs into the Taieri Gorge, a narrow and deep gorge carved out over aeons by the ancient Taieri River.
The train negotiates the gorge with ease as it travels through ten tunnels and over countless bridges and viaducts.
The natural wonders combined with the challenge of man made engineering are truly amazing.
Most of the carriages are fully restored heritage carriages of the 1920s.
The trip is worth in any season.
Even in winter !
Dunedin is situated in a coastal area of great beauty; therefore another railway line - the 'Seasider' - from the central station runs south through magnificent shoreline landscape.