Our next stop on the East coast was Oamaru where I was particularly pleased to spend our first night in a hide watching the yellow eyed penguins come ashore after a days fishing, a spectacular site!
The town has an ancient history, once being the most architecturally beautiful town in the South Island before falling into disrepair and then recently coming back to some of its former glory. The main street, Thames street is a beautiful street with banks built in the late nineteenth century, which look like Greek temples, and a beautiful old post office to boot. They even had red telephone boxes. This town (even more than others in NZ) felt like it was stuck in the 1980's, Rosa was particularly excited to see Sylvanian families still on sale and a trip to a charity shop answered the question of where everyone's old cassettes had gone! We paid a visit to Steampunk HQ, a quirky building with a futuristic steam train in the front and weird and wonderful creations bringing together the old and futuristic including coliderscopes and a dog with a laptop...strange. A stroll back to the car passed a radio museum confirmed to me that this was probably my Dads favorite place on the South Island, I am surprised Mum managed to drag him away!
Before leaving Oamaru we had to visit the Whitestone cheese factory where they make delicious cheeses, we had a taster board with our favorite being their award winning Windsor blue which we then bought a block of to have for lunch later that day.
After this overnight stop we continued south to Dunedin passing the Moeraki boulders, perfectly spherical rocks on the beach formed millions of years ago and which the Maori believe to be the cargo of an ancient fisher boat whose sailors lost their cargo, came ashore to find it and became mountains.
Dunedin is another large town in the South Island with its too main attractions being the Cadbury factory and the worlds steepest hill, presumably to burn off some of the calories from the first attraction. Our visit round the Cadbury factory was great, we got some free samples and saw the worlds only chocolate waterfall, along with finding out the different types of Cadbury chocolate availiable here but not in England, Jaffas are delicious, little round balls of chocolate covered in an orange coating (those in England go check out the first factory in Birmingham, well worth a visit!). Some of the other concotions available in NZ are not as good. Too much marshmallow and not enought chocolate.
We walked up the steepest hill in the world after this, or Baldwin Street as its known. This really is steep, and as we were leaving we saw a crazy Frenchman cycling up it, and were surprised to see that he actually made it! Every year on this steepest hill Cadburys do a charity race, not for people but for these little Jaffa balls which you buy and if it wins (first to the bottom I presume) you get a prize, apparently they release 50,000 balls with all proceeds going to Make a Wish foundation, sweet. Apparently there used to be a soap box race down it though it was banned, cant imagine why.....