My family on my father’s side travelled from Scotlandin the 1800s and settled in the South Island of New Zealand. Dad moved with his immediate family to Australiawhen he was young but we have always loved New Zealandand find it an uplifting place to visit with breathtaking scenery and quiet roads.
Last month my husband and I played in the 9 day Queenstown Chess Classic in New Zealand’s south island. We stayed with good friends and fellow chess players in a rented holiday home in Fernhill, Queenstown. It proved to be a wonderful chess holiday and I thoroughly enjoyed the routine of running along Lake Wakatipu in the mornings, preparing for our opponents, analysing our losses and victories (the agony and the ecstasy of chess!) cooking meals together and going to restaurants and bars.
So I felt rather wistful when it came to an end. On the final day of our holiday, we drove from Queenstown to Dunedin airport on the south east coast to catch our Virgin Pacific flight back to Melbourne via Brisbane at 4:55 pm. We were met with the news that our flight had been delayed by at least 4 hours which would mean we would miss our connecting flight to Brisbane.
We were readying ourselves for a long, tiring haul home, when we discovered that the airline would pay for a night’s accommodation and dinner at the Scenic Hotel Southern Cross in Dunedin; a charming and very comfortable hotel which dates back to 1883. They also changed our flight to a direct flight to Melbourne the following day. That evening, at the airline’s expense, we had a beautiful dinner in the Ports O’Call Grill, sharing the venison special starter, the ‘High Country Lamb’ and pork belly special followed by the chocolate mousse and brandy snap wafers for dessert. Naturally we paid for the wine and tip. Perhaps it was the unexpectedness of it all, but we will always remember it as an unusually enjoyable evening. The food was superb and the hotel and restaurant staff served us with a lovely mix of friendliness and warmth. The next day we had the time to explore Dunedin, where my ancestors had lived, for the first time. Thank you to Pacific Blue and Scenic Hotel Southern Cross for turning a potentially frustrating time into a lovely extension of our holiday.
The Scenic Hotel Southern Cross is in the heart of Dunedin, just a short walk from the Octagon.