Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The New Zealand Diaries: No.16 - The final countdown

I have said it before and I will say it again, New Zealand really is a magical, intriguing country to visit on holiday, and one I had fallen in love with over the last few weeks of my adventure down under.

On the last day of my holiday, the sun sadly turned to rain, but it didn’t stop me enjoying the last few moments I had left on the South Island. Looking to make the most of the last day, my family and I set off to enjoy a few of the sites of Dunedin city.

Our first stop was at St. Clair’s beach. This golden beach, with waves perfect for surfing, is usually packed with tourists and locals on a sunny day, but on a windy and wet day, it was empty. The beach offers fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean, and was surprisingly peaceful despite on the edge of the busy city.

Taking photos and walking bare footed across the sand, it was great to feel the sand between my toes one last time. Despite the weather, the temperature was still warm, and the weather held off whilst I took some fantastic shots of the beach.

After the beach, we did a quick shopping trip in the city centre. Shopping in New Zealand is a mix of commercial chains and boutique stores, and there’s certainly something for everyone in Dunedin. Stopping off at the Cathedral for a few pics, I then went in search of gifts to give to my family. Luckily, a tourist shop is situated right by the cathedral, so I didn’t have too far to go.

We then went for one last meal at an amazing steak house on the busy high street. Enjoying my succulent medium-rare steak, it rounded off a month’s worth of food that I had thoroughly enjoyed eating.

Getting in the car and heading towards the suburbs, we stopped off at one of Dunedin’s most iconic buildings, the train station. Despite mainly used for freight and tour trains, the station is a fantastic structure of colour and gothic architecture, and inside was even more spectacular. Here you’ll find many tourists wondering around, and the atmosphere was lively. You’ll even find the Cadbury chocolate factory nearby, which sadly I didn’t have time to visit (maybe next time!)

Our last stop was at the mysterious Dunedin Chinese Garden. Having never been to a Chinese garden before, I was unsure of what to expect as we walked in. A Chinese garden, it turns out, is mainly a garden structured around a big pond, with a waterfall, water plants and rock features. Although there were fewer flowers than I had expected, the garden was spectacular to look round, and was a peaceful, quiet haven away from the busy city.

The garden also hosts Tai Chi classes, a tearooms and an activity centre, which allowed you to try on different costumes (which I did, of course), play mind games, and solve puzzles. It was a peculiar place, and despite being a recent project, it seemed to have just as much history as the rest of the town!

So that was it. After a quick visit to see our cousins, one sleep and a tearful goodbye to my family, I was back on the plane heading for old Blighty. It’s hard to sum up my time in New Zealand, there’s just not enough words to describe the fantastic time I had over there. It really was a once-in-a-lifetime holiday that I’ll never ever forget. In fact, I’m even tempted to move out there when I’m older! If you ever get the chance to go to New Zealand, or are stuck for holiday ideas, I hope these diaries have tempted you to splash out and enjoy the holiday of a lifetime. You’re guaranteed a fantastic time!

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