45. Chocolate

If there are two things that will endear me to any city, it’s probably chocolate and rugby. Given the presence of a Cadbury factory and a successful rugby team in Dunedin, there are no prizes for guessing how this blog is going to go…

Those who read my last blog will remember my petulant, dramatic and entirely justified rant at the rudest receptionist of all time (Americans), so it was hesitantly that we approached our first full day in the city.

Dunedin is actually the Gaelic translation of ‘Edinburgh’ – the city was founded and hugely influenced by Celtic settlers. (An actual serious fact on this blog. Are you surprised? I know I am.)

While the city doesn’t quite have the wall to wall heritage of Edinburgh, it’s not a bad second with some stunning architecture and some god-forbid-it actual history to be enjoyed.

Naturally for two keen history graduates, our first stop was the Cadbury’s Chocolate factory. That has history too, you know. We arrived and booked onto a tour for 11am, which gave us just enough time to go to the cafe and live out some of my chocolate based childhood dreams with a salted caramel cake and fudge hot chocolate, both of which were as tasty as they were fattening.

We waddled on over to start the tour. Unfortunately no phones were allowed, so there’s no photographic evidence of what happened inside. You’ll just have to take my word for it then, that the Cadbury’s factory in Dunedin has a chocolate river, edible grass, a whole meal in chewing gum form and a slightly creepy old man showing you round.

Of course I’m joking. I wish I wasn’t, but I am. The tour had none of those things, but luckily did have an abundance of free chocolate so was just as good, if not better. Given we’d just had a hot chocolate and a massive slice of cake, you would think that it would be ridiculous for me to eat most of that chocolate immediately. You would be wrong.

One aspect of the Cadburys tour was a huge silo, which we were taken to the top of. Then in front of our eyes tonnes of melted chocolate dropped from the top of the silo to the bottom. When we asked why they did this, the answer came that there was absoloutely no purpose to it and they had built the silo and the machinery and dropped all the chocolate just for fun, basically.

The Cadbury’s factory in Dunedin is closing down soon. It’s a shame, but I think I might have something of an inkling as to why that might be happening. Don’t build 50 foot silos, buy expensive machinery and waste a tonne of chocolate a day if you like profitable factories, you genuine lunatics.

Bloody great fun though. I wanted to jump in.


The tour was soon sadly over and I walked out considerably heavier in terms of both chocolate and weight. We now turned our attention to an even more exciting event (and believe me, I don’t say that lightly), Super Rugby and the Highlanders from Dunedin against the Crusaders from Christchurch.

We arrived at the stadium with me excited and in high spirits and Katie not really knowing what was going on, but a combination of the stadium having a roof, a whole stand being populated with drunk and disorderly students and the PA announcer having a fondness for playing pop hits in breaks of play made for a fantastic atmosphere. This was made even better by the Highlanders sailing into an impressive 27-3 lead just after half time, wrapping the game up easily in the 50th minute.

Except this is New Zealand and if there’s one thing New Zealand teams don’t do, it’s lose easily. Or lose at all, usually. The Crusaders scored 27 points in the last 20 minutes, with a try at the end of the game to clinch an unbelievable 30-27 win.

This somewhat dampened some sections of the crowd, but the students who had been drinking all day didn’t seem to be disappointed at the result and sang and danced around us as we departed the stadium into the Dunedin night. In fairness, they probably weren’t at all disappointed as they probably didn’t have a clue what the score was, who the teams were or indeed where exactly they were.

So after rugby and beer and chocolate, one of the best days of travelling (and possibly one of the best of my life) came to a close.

The next morning we wandered down to Dunedin Railway Station, which is actually bloody magnificent to be fair. No public trains go through the station, only tourist ones, and yet look at it:


Look at it! Awesome. Anyway, all too soon we were back on a bus to Queenstown, with a lady who had exactly 4 topics of conversation:

  1. Bodies of water along the route
  2. Whether one could swim in those bodies of water
  3. Whether one could boat in those bodies of water
  4. Where we would go if we turned the opposite direction at major junctions.

Thus, our journey can be summarised as this:

So on your right there you have the Taieri River. Yeh that’s no good for swimming, too rough, but you can boat there

Ah okay cool pretty interesting thanks

Ah yeh on your left there is Lake Waihola, pretty shallow so no good for boating. Or swimming. Pretty popular with holidaymakers there yeh

Weird that New Zealander’s like to go on holiday to lows where you can’t do anything but okay fair enough

Now we’re going left here, but if we went right we’d be on our way to Invercargill

We’ve been to Invercargill and we can all read the road signs but… thanks?

Aw yeah that lake there is pretty great for boating, nice and deep. Not so great for swimming though hey

Yes okay there’s water we can swim or boat or neither or both

Great lake on the left there hey…”

Do you know what that is actually really lovely, maybe we could even stop and have a swi-

No boating or swimming there though. Not allowed hey

Fair enough.

We arrived in Queenstown in the afternoon for one of the greatest nights of my life: Our final stay in a Base Hostel! Ever! I couldn’t contain the excitement. True to form, Base provided us with their finest combination of stinking room above a bar, with only top bunks remaining and 4 men in it who had the bodies of boys who love themselves too much and the cleanliness of an undomesticated rat.

We ditched the bags and went to meet Noah, Pippa and Sigrid from earlier in the blog. After I reluctantly queued for a Fergburger, which in fairness was bloody tasty, we spent the night discussing tales of our travels since we had last seen each other in Wellington, before being told by an absoloutely sloshed child from Bath that he was sober (lie), he was an England rugby fan (southern English rugby fans do always seem so humble and pleasant) and that all Welsh people were “a very rude word I can’t repeat here”. Pippa is Welsh, so we encouraged him to leave before doing so ourselves for bed and sleep.

Whether that very very drunk bloke survived is a mystery to me. With the best of intentions, he wouldn’t be a huge loss.

So the next morning we were on a bus to Lake Tekapo. We left Queenstown behind, and unfortunately had to leave Sigrid and Noah for the last time too. As we headed on the beginning of the end, our final ascent north to Auckland and the end of our travels, we passed the amazing scenery of the beautiful gorge that runs by the road away from Queenstown. As I stared down at the fast flowing crystal blue water, one thought was clear in my head;

Couldn’t bloody swim in there. Or boat. No way.

Alex Odlin would like to reiterate that you absoloutely couldn’t boat in that river in the gorge. Or swim. You know if you turned right at this road you’d be going to Christchurch?

Infrequent photos HERE: instagram.com/alexanderjodlin

Infrequent humour HERE: twitter.com/alexodlinsufc


1: Cuddles – The Man, The Myth, The Legend

2: Christchurch – Pleasant Surprises

3: The best airport in the world

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