Time to leave the glorious Te Anau in Fiordland and head across the country to the southern city of Dunedin. This would be the furthest south we have ever been and somewhere we didn’t make it to last time so we were looking forward to exploring a brand new place.
Goodbye Te Anau
I know a lot of people just see Te Anau as a staging post on their trips to either Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound but we seriously loved the place, so laid back and easy going and views across Lake Te Anau to die for. So sad to be leaving again but exited to be on our way to a new adventure.
Highway 94 to Dunedin
Our route on highway 94 would take us through the areas of Southland, Mataura, Clutha, and finally Dunedin. These areas are a little like English counties I suppose but seem to be substantially bigger than most. Around 200 miles in little Dexy this time passing by familiar sounding towns like Croydon, Stirling and Henley. So many of the places in the far south have Scottish names due to the 18th century Scottish settlers that came to the region. Also a lot of the architecture seems to be right out of the Highlands too. Fascinating drive as the mountains of Southland gave way to the pastures of Mataura and Clutha and within minutes there were thousands and thousands of sheep everywhere.
Just outside the tiny village of Clinton we decided it was time for a lunch stop and a picturesque little picnic ground looked ideal. So we parked up, got the lunch supplies, wandered over to a nearby picnic bench and sat down. As we sat we suddenly noticed a brown parcel on the end of the table with very neat handwriting.
‘For you. Are praying for you’. I must admit to being a little freaked out as neither of us had noticed it as we walked over and sat down and I was all for moving to another table. Jo is made of sterner stuff however and decided to open it. All sorts of horror-film-related ideas flashed through my mind as she carefully opened the brown paper. I started thinking of the Omen and the Exorcist for some reason. Inside she found, to freak me out even more, a Holy Bible.
Not a new bible either but one that had obviously been treasured and used for many many years. She looked through it briefly and carefully re-wrapped it and we sat having our lunch just wondering who had put it there and why. After much discussion we decided that someone must have just wanted to pay forward some kind-thoughts and prayers in some way and had decided to give away their treasured bible. We left it as it in exactly the same spot and wondered what it’s story was and where it might go next. Interesting huh?
The city of Dunedin is the furthest city in the world from London at 11,870 miles which makes you think doesn’t it? It also covers an area of some 1,279 square miles which is bigger than Cambridgeshire in England and the US state of Rhode Island. I love those sort of facts. It was mapped by Captain James Cook in 1770 but not settled until 1815 when William Tucker became the first european to live here.
In 1848 the Free Church of Scotland founded the city as the principal town of it’s development and took the name from the Scottish gaelic name for Edinburgh (Dun Eideann). Over the next ten years over 12,000 scots had relocated to the area from the opposite side of the world and the towns design had been drawn up based upon Edinburgh’s own street layout. The designer, Charles Kettle, based the city’s new design on Edinburghs New Town and devised a bold romantic layout in a challenging hilly location. His design produced the worlds steepest residential street, Baldwin Street, which has a slope of 1 in 2 at it’s peak.
It’s a little bigger now with a population of over 125,000. As you can see in the above photo the city is based around the end of the 15 mile long Otago Harbour and although it has spread considerably the bulk of the southern headland is still uninhabited apart from a few small harbour-front villages.
It was in one of those that we were staying however, Broad Bay is 9 miles along the harbour road and our hosts Mike and Tania had a lovely 3 bed house overlooking the harbour.
Exploring the City of Dunedin
Usually the average temperature in Dunedin in January is around the 17 degrees C mark but the weather in New Zealand has been crazily hot during our stay and we woke to blue skies and high twenties which is unheard off down here. A drive into the city centre and a wander around the sights, searching for the shade of course, was in order.
A great lunch at Cobb & Co in the railway station followed by meeting Mike and Tania in their eBike shop in Cumberland Road in the centre, and finally a couple of beers in Octagon Square. A full on day in the sunshine and home for an early night.
Down time for a Sickly JWalker
Next day however Jo was not feeling great, bad headaches plus racking cough meant that I had to confine her to bed and we took the time to rest up and hopefully help her recover. Sometimes these things just catch up on you and you need a couple of days complete rest to shift them and luckily we had some time here in Broad Bay to do that.
The following morning wasn’t much better but she did insist on getting out for a few hours (she’s stubborn like that, you know what she’s like) so we headed for the Albatross colony right at the end of Taiaroa Head.
There was no way that we were going to pay 10,000 dollars entry (or something like that) so we went for a walk to the cliff edge to catch the view. It looked fabulous BUT the walk was horrific! Like a Stephen King film! Millions and millions of screaming, fighting, pooing seagulls everywhere! The noise was deafening and everything, and I mean everything, was covered in seagull droppings.Just walking along the path through crowds of them and then every handrail was full of gulls which squawked away and then landed behind you as you walked. Surrounded constantly. We couldn’t wait to get out of there. No photos as we were just too traumatised by the experience and wouldn’t want to be the cause of nightmares amongst any of our followers.
Back down the coast road through Portobello and onto Macandrew where we stopped for some lunch in the Bay Cafe overlooking the non-seagull-infested beach. Bliss. Then a little romantic stroll in the sunshine and a couple of well-deserved ice-creams.
Otago Settlers Museum and Port Chalmers
Next morning with Jo feeling a little better we said our farewells and set off for our next stay an hour north of the city. First though we had our eyes on a brief visit to the Otago Settlers Museum and spent a couple of fascinating hours there learning everything about Dunedin and the surrounding area. Plus it was free!
On the opposite side of the harbour is the historic docks of Port Chalmers so we zipped along Peninsula Drive and parked up to have a look around and then enjoy a couple of pies at the Cottage Bakehouse. Kiwis love their pies and we just can’t get enough of them. I’m sure they’re calorie-free and very healthy so it’s impossible to eat too many! (Isn’t it?)
Our favourite piece of history about Port Chalmers is that it was the last stop for Captain Scott in 1910 on his final ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. There is a touching memorial up on the hill overlooking the port that we couldn’t miss.
With the weather closing in and the rain on it’s way we got on our way up to our next ‘home from home’ and it could not have been more different. A place that we couldn’t spell or pronounce that may well have been the most remote Airbnb we have ever stayed in.
Next – Diverse North Otago
13/01 – 17/01/2018