Australia & New Zealand 2007 travel blog

The steepest street in the world

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A bumpy ride down the steepest road in the world!!

We had another nice breakfast in the stables and met a couple of the folks that were at dinner with Dennis & Kathy last night. After our luggage was in the car we took a tour of Larnach Castle. While called a castle it is not that in the true sense of the word. It is an english manor house, about half the size of your standard castle. We guess it has always been called the castle by everyone except the family who referred to it as "The Camp".

Larnach was a banker, businessman, politician and very respected resident of New Zealand. Breaking in as a banker in the Otago gold fields where he worked out of a tent, he rose through various positions and was eventually assigned to establish the bank in Dunedin and be its manager.

Construction of "The Camp" began in the 1860's, since Dunedin was only about 20 years old, Larnach went to Europe to find craftsman to carve the wood and stone that would embellish both the exterior and interior. The project took years to complete with , the wood carving being done by a father and his two sons. Some of these people stayed on as residents of Dunedin and we are told that examples of their work can be found in other buildings and homes in the area.

Many innovations, for the time period, are found in the house, he had indoor plumbing and a septic system. There was a mechanical dumb waiter and call bell system and the window sasches are hung by chain rather than rope. There were two separate windows in each frame for the same purpose as today's dual pane windows. The wood carving is something to behold, unfortunately we could not take photos in the building.

Life was not that good on the family side of things. Bickering among the kids who were deceived into signing a legal document that effected their inheritance, a third marriage that was viewed as inappropriate at the time and a recession led Larnach to kill himself in the Parliament Building in Wellington where he was an elected official.

We said goodbye to Judi's cat who has run of the castle grounds and found out that her real name is Cindy although she did not seem to mind being called Kiwi while she was nice and warm in bed. Dunedin is about 5 hours away, the longest driving day of the trip so we better get in gear.

One stop to make as we leave town, Baldwin Street is called the steepest street in the world, after all the roads we have been on we cannot pass this up!! Well, it is steep and a bit bumpy. Baldwin street is a residential street that just well, goes up. It seems to us that there is no reason to dispute the claim of it being the steepest. Off we went to the top where there is a very small turnaround, an impressive view from the bottom is better from the top. Going down in first gear we still had to stay on the brakes. It is like a ski jump with a flat landing area at the bottom. We have now been on the steepest street in the world.

We have not been on the east coast of the South Island at all. There is a flat plain between the mountains and the sea where we see our first indications of crop farming as opposed to grazing. Not to say that there are no sheep, sheep are everywhere. The road itself is two lane, straight, flat and boring. We do make good time on as passing lanes are available once in a while.

We easily find our last accommodations of the trip, the Chardonnay Motel in Christchurch. We have a two bedroom townhouse on the winery end of the building. Yes, another winery; tonight we are too beat to check it out. We find a local club serving a reasonably priced and tasty dinner.

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