Journey through time

by Insiders Dunedin

As the Taieri Gorge train leaves Dunedin's stone station it's landscapes and scenery we're anticipating. But as it climbs the hills beyond the Taieri Plain and the view grows increasingly beautiful we're struck by something we didn't expect.

The people. Who were they, the ones who made this remarkable railway? We pass beside sheer bluffs, passages blasted by dynamite, through tunnels and across towering steel and stone viaducts. All of it built so long ago.

It's that whisper from the past that hits our senses hardest. We see the scenery and marvel, but that awe is mixed with the echoes of the lives spent living and working here.

But the scenery still overwhelms. It's beautiful. Absurdly beautiful. Willows glow yellow, the hills are a jumble of golds, greens and slate. The river twists and flattens and tumbles far below. When we finally appear on the Strath Taieri the world has changed. High country plains speckled with farms stretch to the distant mountains.

Back in Dunedin we switch from train to car to reach Otago Peninsula's Larnach Castle. Is it really a castle, we wonder? Well it feels pretty real when we round the corner and it looms in front of us, towering stone above gardens, sculptures, statues and stables.

Inside feels even better. It's extravagant, rich, real, and always those views through the windows, across the lawns, across the harbour. Then there's the grounds. If we could measure experiences exceeding expectations, the castle grounds would be off the scale.

And everywhere the echo of people. Of William Larnach who built it. Of the Barker family who bought and cherished and restored it.

We return to Dunedin feeling we know it, and love it, better than ever.

Post submitted by Craig Borley


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