Along the Away

a traveler's tales

So it turns out I rocked into Dunedin the week of the Cadbury Chocolate Festival… Yes, poor me. The trials of the wanderer are fierce.

It was honestly quite the coincidence – you would think an extreme chocoholic like myself might have had a bit more of an intentional hand in such synchronicity, but no. As unplanned as it was there was clearly the hand of the universe at play, which has a way of revealing our destiny to us at the appropriate moment.

Cadbury Chocolate Factory, Dunedin

Unfortunately I was leaving the day of the famous Jaffa race which was the event I would have been the most interested in. I had heard of this many years before from a Kiwi housemate – the steepest street in the world is in Dunedin (Baldwin St) and the city makes good use of it by unleashing thousands of jaffas down its slope one day every year. The jaffas are all branded with a number, each one funded by members of the public. The first ones to reach the bottom of the hill win their owner a prize. Very cool! But unfortunately I missed it.

I did go to the Cadbury World factory though and signed up to go on the tour. It was brilliant. Sometimes these kind of things don’t really live up to expectations, but the tour was really interesting, we got given heaps of Cadbury products in our goody bags, and our lovely tour guide was genuinely enthusiastic about everything she had to show us.

The tour cost $22 and is best booked at least a day before if you’re on any particular schedule. The full tour takes 75 minutes and runs every half an hour during the day so you’ll likely get booked on one with short notice. When I turned up for my time slot I was invited to wander around looking at some momentos from Cadbury’s history until it was time to start.

Cadbury Chocolate Factory, Dunedin

Within five minutes I was approached by an Ompaloompa. I know, that’s a different chocolate factory, but I was flummoxed when a short person came up to me in purple overalls, white long sleeved arms and a white puffy hairnet. I looked around and there was quite a few of them – virtually indistinguishable from each other! My Oompaloompa asked what time slot I was in and asked me to meet by the door, where she would lead the tour from. Our small group of 6 assembled and we started. First of all we watched a short video about the history of the Cadbury family, then we all donned hairnets, and for the guys with facial hair, beard snoods (!!!) All jewellery had to be removed or taped down onto the skin. Our guide explained that the Dunedin Cadbury factory is the last working chocolate factory in the world that you actually tour through and see things in action. It means that we have to take precautions to ensure the factory remains hygienic and up to food safety standards. The walkways we stuck to as we wandered through the place was separated from the actual chocolate production, but it was still reassuring to see the extent they go to to keep the products protected.

Cadbury Chocolate Factory, Dunedin

Cameras are not allowed on the tour so I have no pictures to share, however I’ll paint you a picture of my highlights.

My absolute favourite part was the coloured pipes on the ceiling. There were four colours, and they ran unpredictably, sometimes all four together, then randomly splitting off and criss-crossing across each other. Each colour pumps a different kind of chocolate to each of the machines. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and couverture chocolate. Depending on the Cadbury product that is made at each station depends which coloured pipes run to there. The only Cadbury product made with all four types are Choc Bits, which turn up in the baking aisle of the supermarket.

I was mesmerised by the Choc Bits being piped down onto the conveyor belt in a grid of about a hundred bits or so. There must have been a blockage on one of the nozzles as watching the grid of bits trundle past on the conveyor belt there was a single ‘Bit’ missing in every grid. A little blank space in the neat orderly rows of Choc Bits.

The grand finale of the tour was walking into one of the tall towers that are so dominant from the street. Here, a tonne of melted chocolate is dropped from the centre of the tower and thunders past us. The same chocolate is used for a whole year – it is collected at the bottom, kept warm and pumped back up to the top again for the next group. So obviously, this is not chocolate you would want to put in your mouth!

Luckily they had a special batch for us to try which came from a machine that squirted tablespoons worth down into a tray of about 12 mini-cups. I really loved seeing the machinery aspect of the factory, so efficient!

There is a cafe on site, where the mochas are delicious and served with a chocolate fish!

Cadbury Chocolate Factory, Dunedin

Dunedin is not just about chocolate – it’s a pretty cool town actually! More on my four day visit in the next post.

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Sydney based, coastal dwelling. When I'm not at work I'm somewhere outdoors, or in the yoga studio, or at my local cafe, or pottering at home.

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