Nipped down to Dunedin last week to rub my friends Mr. and Mrs. Grumpybum’s tum tum (that’s the code name we came up with together to protect their anonymity).
Dunedin is excellent IMHO. I Love the drive to get there, the people, the culture, the sense of community. It feels like a tiny wee antipodean Aberdeen (others say Edinburgh, I am sticking with Aberdeen) to me. I Loved the three years I spent in Scotland as a young child. So it’s not a big jump to figure why Dunedin found its way so firmly into my big mushy hobbity heart as well.
It’s a student town. And everyone who lives there is used to seeing all sorts of shenanigans. Even the tour guide at the botanic gardens had one or two stories of student mischief to share. Here are a selection of snaps from our trip to the Botanic gardens, where we managed to get a ride in a fully electric trolly thing.
Dunedin has so much more to offer than student bars and cheap take-away joints (although there’s no shortage of either of these).
From the Octagon, to Otago Peninsula there’s a ton of fun shit to do and see in this plucky little shining light in the South Pacific. This place punches so very far above its weight, and I will always jump at an opportunity to visit.
As mentioned, there is a very Scottish feel to darling Dunners. That includes the weather. Dunedin is prone to grey and dismal spells of weather just like her Northern twin. I’ve seen rain come in sideways, and fog that would give my grandmother’s pea soup a run for its money in the thick and gloomy stakes. Is this a bad thing??? HELL NO!
Here are just SOME of the views from the Otago Peninsula that you can enjoy if you hike up there for a look around.
If you find yourself lucky enough to be placed in Dunedin in the autumn or winter, please drag your tourist ass up the hill to Larnach castle very early on a foggy morning. It’s magic. It feels like a scene from Wuthering Heights or, maybe, even Scooby Doo? At any rate. It’s proper eerie and one of my favourite things to do, on a long list of favourite things to do while I am in Otago.
The Peninsula is amazing. That little library, the views, the teeny-tiny-windy road. The walk to Sandfly Bay (did I get the name right?) It’s all good. Go there. It’s good.
There’s also a thriving art and culture scene. Not to brag or anything (yes, I am just about to FULLY brag) but I am friends with one of the driving forces in this area. Pam is a soft spoken powerhouse with a git’er’done attitude and tenacity that fears no red tape or neigh sayer. She remains unwavering in the face of obstacles or intimidation. She’s got an eye for beauty and a heart of gold and is a force of nature in and of her own right. She’s also one of the very first EV owners in all of New Zealand, and almost certainly the first commercial EV owner in Dunedin. She helps organize exhibitions, record breaking meet ups, rallies, social events and countless other things in between. She’s absolutely one of my all-star heroes. As are the other champions I have come to know and Love in the deep South. Alan and Veronica are full of enthusiasm and knowledge and I never quite feel like I get to spend enough time with them when I sneak down. OH! And Scott and Jenna!! Artistic and tied to nature and their community inextricably. I should stop there, because I could be here all day.
I realized, on this last trip, that I’ve not been to Dunedin without a visit to Nova cafe. Why is this? Um, because the coffee is off the fucking hook and food is amazing. Also, it is in the lobby of the art gallery which is very warm and welcoming. Feels quite Scandinavian to me, with all that wood and open space. I am vastly and deeply in Love with many things Scandinavian, so that scores Dunedin some extra points. Extra. Points. For Dunedin.
So my daughter and I had no plan as such, we just wanted to have a couple of days of girl time and to see my friends and wish them well.
We drifted around in our little rented Holden sewing machine sized car. We got to ride in the fully electric bus around the botanic gardens. Probably, the most fun we had though, was op-shopping around town. The second hand stores in Auckland and Wellington can have a bit of a hipster feel, or be overpriced at times. Not in Dunners. No sir, they have well lit junk shopping. No pretence or toff scoffs anywhere! I paid $1 a piece for a set of six hand made (locally hand made) coffee mugs. They’re beautiful.
We spent our second night at the foot of the world’s steepest street (Baldwin Street) in a lovely apartment on top of a cafe that was run by a most unpleasant young woman. She was packing up and we asked for directions to the place we had booked to stay and she feigned complete ignorance, despite the fact the apartment was located right above the coffee shop she was just closing up. Strange. I thought she was having a bad day, but nope, the next day she was awful as well, as I dared to nip down and ask if they were open yet (because the doors were open) and apparently they were not. All good. You don’t get through 40 years on this planet being Dee West without coming across some people who have nothing but the “are you something I need to scrape off my shoe” look to offer. It’s all good. I don’t sweat the small stuff much these days anyway. And the apartment was PERFECT. We really enjoyed it.
We slept in till 8:30 on our last morning, so didn’t manage to get up in time to see a sunrise or go for one last walk on the steep streets of Dunedin.
We got to the airport without struggling through any level of traffic at all, and my daughter was pleased to bits with how tiny the airport and runway were, compared to, lets say: LAX or Heathrow. That child has grown up proper Bougie and I’ve got no-one to blame by my own damn self for it. But she did Love our trip to the Scotland of the South, as I always do as well.
So thanks for hosting me and Steph last week Dunners. You really are a stunner. XXOO