Sweet times with Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival
New Zealanders seldom miss a chance to celebrate the things they love and the sweetest of them all is a week-long celebration of everyone’s favourite chocolate.
Held annually in July, Dunedin's Cadbury Chocolate Carnival is a family festival of all things chocolate with entertainment for every age group.
With a population of around 120,000, Dunedin is one of New Zealand's smaller cities but it is also one of the most interesting, with a world-class university, a rich history and a wealth of historical architecture.
Nestled among hills that are the remnants of an extinct volcano at the bottom of the South's Island's east coast, Dunedin was first settled by Māori roughly 700 years ago when the area was a popular site for hunting moa - now extinct giant flightless birds similar to ostriches but much bigger.
The area was scouted by European explorer James Cook in 1770, with settlers arriving in 1831. The city grew rapidly with the discovery of gold at nearby Gabriel's Gully in 1861, becoming the most populous city in New Zealand until 1900.
Through its history Dunedin has become home to the world-leading Otago University, New Zealand's oldest surviving daily newspaper (Otago Daily Times), some amazing architecture including the St. Paul's Cathedral and Larnach Castle and of course, the historic Cadbury Factory.
The British confectionery company Cadbury has a long history with the city of Dunedin, starting in 1868 when Richard Hudson arrived in Dunedin and set up a biscuit bake house, later opening the southern hemisphere's first chocolate factory in 1884 and merging with Cadbury in 1930.
Since then the factory has grown with the times, and now produces a wide range of unique treats that have become favourites with millions of New Zealanders.
The Cadbury Chocolate Carnival
One of Dunedin's biggest annual attractions is the week-long Cadbury Chocolate Carnival. Running from 11 – 17 July, the festival hosts a wide range of attractions over its seven-day runtime, with something for everyone whether you have a sweet tooth or not.
The flagship event associated with the day is the Jaffa Race down Baldwin Street. Widely considered the world's steepest street and recognised as such by the Guinness World Book of Records, Baldwin Street rises 70-metres over its 350 metre length, making it a decent walk to the top (the super-fit might want to try running it - the current record is one minute, 56 seconds).
The Jaffa Race, however, requires no running as it consists of rolling 25,000 Jaffa sweets down the street, each with its own sponsor, with prizes going to the sponsors of the first five Jaffas across the line. Jaffas are a long-time favourite Kiwi treat – little balls of chocolate covered in hard orange candy shells.
The Jaffa Race has been running since 2002 and has raised over $600,000 for a variety of organisations including Surf Life Saving, Make a Wish and Canteen.
The Cadbury Chocolate Carnival features a wide range of other activities aimed at injecting a bit of family fun into the winter season, with a something to do for every age group.
Families can take a ride on the “Crunchy Train” where the children enjoy stories told by staff of the Dunedin Children's Library as well as a big plunder of chocolate, while their parents appreciate the spectacular scenery of the Taieri Gorge.
There are classes in chocolate making, chocolate-art and cake decoration, and for the adults, there are cooking lessons available with some of Dunedin's best chefs.
For those looking for something that's not chocolate-related, the Orokonui Ecosanctuary will be holding a variety of conservation days aimed at showing off the area's natural heritage. Or you could make a trip to the nearby Royal Albatross Centre on the Otago Peninsula, and learn about some of the most magnificent birds to grace the skies.
Other activities on offer include having a go at curling at the Dunedin Ice Stadium, or visiting Larnach Castle for the Winter Ball and Teddy Bears' Picnic, while those artistically inclined may enjoy the Cadbury Couture wearable art show, or the Cadbury Recyclia Trash to Art competition.
If you're worried about gaining a few pounds from all the chocolate, you can take part in a 10-kilometre fun run or 5-kilometre walk for those feeling like taking it easy (then celebrate your accomplishment with a chocolate treat at the finish line).