Brisbane, QLD

Thursday, March 31, 2016


We drove from Timaru to Dunedin and booked into our B&B. The next day we explored the Otago Peninsula. First off we visited Larnach Castle, the only castle in New Zealand.
William Larnach's brilliant career encompassed his merchant empire Guthrie and Larnach, banking, shipping, farming, landholding, politics and speculation. He was a man of great vision and created a magnificent residence for himself and his family in 1871. It took 200 men three years to build the shell and many gifted European craftsmen spent twelve years embellishing the interior. Materials came from all over the world. Larnach committed suicide in 1898 and the family torn apart by legal battles sold the castle in 1906. From then on it started to deteriorate and had a sad history by 1967 it wasn't much more than a ruin but it was bought by the remarkable Barker family who have spent all the years since restoring the building to its former glory. They want to share the castle and its history with the NZ people. So it is open to the public and the entrance fee helps pay for the ongoing restoration. It is a popular tourist destination with onsite accommodation and employs 80 staff.
The castle sits high on a hill with views of the Otago Harbour on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. It is surrounded by beautifully kept gardens. A ballroom was added later (at the right) and now is used as a cafe and a venue for weddings and conventions.

 The music room

 The ladies drawing room

The library

The ceiling in the foyer took three people six and a half years to carve. The hand etched venetian glass depicts the English rose, the Irish shamrock, the Scottish thistle and the New Zealand fern. The ceramic floor is Minton from Stoke-on-Trent. The mosaic tiles from Belgium spell the words "The Camp", which is the name Larnach gave to the property. 

 I enjoyed exploring the castle but I was a bit hesitant climbing the tiny spiral staircase to the roof.

The view down the harbour to the heads was fabulous.

Looking over the neat gardens from the top floor bedrooms.

We had a coffee and then a walk through the gardens before setting off for another adventure.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


One of the things on my bucket list was to see the Moeraki Boulders on the beach in New Zealand. I was pleased to see that the road from Christchurch to Dunedin passes right by Koekoheo Beach where the boulders rest after falling out of the cliffs on the edge of the beach. So during our recent visit to NZ we called in. Unfortunately the weather wasn't good. Showers and a grey sky, not good for photography. However, we tried to make the best of it. Bill was disappointed he thought the boulders would be much bigger.

We walked down to the beach from the car park.

 There were others who had come to see these strange round boulders.

Bill thought they were going to be much bigger.

 Scientists say they are concretions, a hard mass stuck together with mineral cement and they grow in a sedimentary strata until they are exposed by erosion and then they roll out of the cliffs onto the beach.

I was happy to tick off another item on my bucket list. I got the dirty knee from taking the shot before this one.

Friday, March 25, 2016


Oamaru is a town between Christchurch and Dunedin in New Zealand. In the 1880's Oamaru was one of New Zealands biggest towns. It was a bustling harbour town exporting and importing goods for the local farms and the interior.
The discovery of an excellent building material, limestone, contributed to the towns appearance of a permanent and stable town. Because the stone was easily carved and fashioned, stonemasons revelled in the creation of the fashionable classical architecture. Their skills gave Oamaru some of the finest 19th century streetscapes in New Zealand.
Due to the shift in commerce and the closure of the port in the 70's, it has allowed the area to stay in tact. Now the Victorian Precinct of Oamaru is a popular tourist attraction.
There are too many buildings to post but here are some that I liked very much.
 Beautiful buildings line Thames Street. The first on the left is the National bank originally built for the Bank of Otago in 1871.  The neighbouring building is the Forrester Gallery which was the Bank of New South Wales built in 1883. Both buildings were designed by Robert Lawson. 

The North Otago Museum  was originally the Atheneum (library) and Mechanics Institute. It was built in 1882 and designed by Forrester and Lemon.

 Two of my favourites were the St Luke's Anglican Church started in 1886 but was added to in 1876, 1913 and 1922. The other is the Waitaki District Council but it used to be the Post Office built in 1883 but the clock tower was added in1903.

 The Wool Store and Critereon Hotel. The hotel was built in 1887 but closed in 1906. It reopened in 1998 and it is administered by the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust formed to buy and restore buildings in the old town area.

The Steam Punk Museum was originally Hood and Shennan's Drapery and later the AMP Society. Steam punk is a quirky and fun genre of science fiction that features steam-powered technology.

 This lovely Victorian lady spent some time telling us about the buildings. Both the gallery and bank have luxuriant acanthus leaves carved on the capitals of their Corinthian Columns.
I would have liked to spend longer here but we had to drive on to the Moeraki Boulders and Dunedin before nightfall.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Our blogging friends in NZ, Marja and William, took us sight seeing on the morning we were leaving them to continue down the East Coast of the South Island of NZ to Timaru.
 They showed us this beautiful pebble beach, where William goes fishing.

 They took us high up the hills overlooking Christchurch and the Canterbury Plain all the way to the Southern Alps.

 On the other side of the hill we could see Lyttleton Harbour.

 Then we drove around the edge of the harbour and through the villages.

 We visited the popular Sumner Beach, where only a few days before an earthquake had shaken more of the cliffs down into the sea.

We said goodbye to our new friends, who pointed us in the direction of Timaru and off we went.We found our accommodation, Glendeer Lodge.

It was a very comfortable B&B.

 There were deer in their garden.

 And sheep down the road. "Eyes Right"

 Views from near the lodge.
Next stop Oamaru.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


While we were in Akaroa we visited the "Giant's House," which  has a garden decorated with mosaic installations. The house was built in 1880 for the first bank manager in Akaroa. It took five years to build and it has an imported, mahogany staircase from France. It was named the Giants House after a small girl looked up at it from the valley below and said, "It is so big it must be a giant's house."

Later the house was bought and restored by artist Josie Martin.Trained as a horticulturalist and artist she combines her two passions throughout her home and garden. Her artworks hang on the many large walls in her house. While she was digging in the garden she found many shards of broken china from the original residents. She thought it too beautiful to throw away and she decided to make mosaic steps and pathways in her garden. This became her hobby for over twenty years. She has added many concrete and mosaic tiled sculptures.  
 The house also has a cafe and a B&B.

 Marja, (blogger friend) was our tour guide. Here she sits at the mosaic piano garden.

The house is perched high up on a hill overlooking Akaroa and the bay.

I enjoyed walking the many mosaic pathways through the garden.

 There were hundreds of different kind of mosaic sculptures and installations.

 Although I found them fascinating and appreciated the hours of work involved in making them, I wasn't sure that I really liked them. I felt some were bordering on kitsch.

I thought this one was interesting.

Friday, March 18, 2016


One day I was scrolling through my friends blogs when I came across some beautiful photos on Marja's blog. They were of Akaroa in New Zealand, one of her favourite places. I thought I would love to go there one day. So I did! We were so lucky because Marja and William showed us the places for good photos.
View from a lookout 

The little township of Akaroa nestles on the edge of the bay. It was originally settled by a french community and there is still evidence of that in the village. We drove down the windy road into the main street.

 We walked through the town with our new friends. There were lots of eateries as it is quite a tourist destination.

 There were many quaint little cottages with nice gardens.

 We walked along the esplanade to the end where we ate at a restaurant on the edge of the bay.

On the way home we drove up the steep hill to Heritage Park Lookout. The scenery was just beautiful.

A fun place for photographers.