It’s often missed for the more famous West Coast or the route through the middle of South Island via the lakes, Wanaka and Tekapo – but the East Coast has a few treasures to share, especially if you are visiting New Zealand for the second or third time.

Dunedin is full of life! Young students at the university frequent lively bars and restaurants, the place is buzzing! More sedate travellers love to visit Dunedin’s famous railway station – go early (at least 30 minutes before your train) to see the fabulous stained-glass windows and architecture. On the platform you’ll board the Taieri Gorge Railway – to ride to the hinterland, over bridges, through tunnels and the natural New Zealand bush. It’s relaxing and fun, a buffet car to keep you refreshed and some tongue-in-cheek commentary to keep you amused.

Dunedin is home to New Zealand’s only two castles – worth going to Larnach Castle, if only to walk through the gardens … and the drive to it on the peninsular is just stunning.

Even if you are not a bird lover, you will enjoy a visit to the Albatross Centre – see them gliding over head and watch the chicks try to fly! There are also hundreds of rare yellow eyed penguin colonies just north of Dunedin.

On the coast road, heading north, are the Moeraki Boulders, like huge marbles scattered on the beach shoreline. Just park the car and walk down – they are fascinating.

You must stop a night or two at Oamaru. It’s kooky and off beat and the facades are Victorian. Apparently, when the settlers come here, there were no trees to build their town so they used the only thing available, a white sandstone – and the buildings have been preserved!

There are not too many tourists or coach tours on this route, so enjoy the small, local shops, local restaurants and chat to local New Zealand countryfolk … it’s a slow pace with penny farthings and steam trains. Nostalgia!

If you are ready for something different… meet me in the gallery!