The day was overcast. We were hungry. We had just returned across the lake. Time to move. Time to head north.
But; first things first, get the car, find food and then drive. The trip was about 5 hours. We hoped the roads would be a little easier on the East coast. We were leaving the southern Alps and heading to Dunedin, NZ. The only restaurant we could find was a smallish cafe. Entering where half the crew we just travel with had already arrived. Not fancy, no china, no silver, good down home filling food. We stuffed our faces and left contented.
The drive was uneventful. Arriving in Dunedin was eye opening. A big city, a University town. Traffic lights and yes; traffic. We climbed up the side of a mountain to our new digs. AirBnB’s have been the main source for our overnights. Here we would spend a couple of days to explore this Scottish settlers town.
The following am we began walking into town. Our host said it was about 45 minutes. NOT! By the time we got down the hill (mtn) we were already 15 minutes into it. The wind was brisk and right in our faces. 15 minutes later we came upon a sign indicating that the town center was 7 km further. We turned around and took the car.
Parking in Dunedin was a challenge. We drove around several blocks and 20 minutes later found a spot, parked and paid for our time. We grabbed a snack and wandered to the train station and checked out the day trips.
At Dunedin station we took a step back in time. Beautiful brick, mosaic floors, and stained glass windows. All this with the passing of trains just outside. We picked a 4 hour tour for the following day. Out and back through some of the most remote scenery in NZ. We would travel over huge trestle bridges, hug steep mountain sides, and cross multiple rapids. We enjoyed the trip and were glad it was only a few hours. It would have been wonderful to cross the entire S. Island by train; but, we didn’t know what to do with the car then.
Back in Dunedin we wandered around. There we discovered beautiful murals painted by graffiti artists. There are close to 30 of them around the town center. We came close to seeing 20 or so. We hiked what is said to be the steepest road in the world: Baldwin Street. We’ll miss this city, vibrant, energetic, and beautiful. But we must continue on; winter is coming and the S. Island is much colder than the N.
We drove to Christchurch. Home of a most recent “big” earthquake”. While it was close to a decade ago, people talked about it as if happened last year. And for them and their experience it may have seemed so. Having lunch in a local restaurant our neighbor started up a conversation with us. Asking about America and then telling us of his experience during the quake. Some people lost everything. Others with insurance came out ok but had a lot to deal with. Some businesses that had replacement insurance came through smiling. But the people, they were still affected. On NZ’s public radio station they discussed some recent earthquake research. The results indicated that problem solving skills years after the event were often deficient. In other words; they were not yet back to “normal”.
In the afternoon we headed up the gondola for a panoramic view of this coast. Rising up through the clouds we were lucky enough they cleared in time to provide a perfect view of Littleton and Christchurch. While on the mountain peak, some parasailers came up the gondola. They walked out to the side of the mountain and ran till their sails filled. They made the trip down to Christchurch at speeds up to 100 km / hour. A couple of minutes later they landed, packed up their sail, and headed back to the gondola ready to go again. They purchased year passes for the gondola. Whenever the weather is right they ride to the top, flying like the birds back down. Not a bad way to adventure. But on this day there were no women and one member told me that there is only one in the club. Not sure if the women were too smart for this adventure or simply; cautious.
Afterwards we drove to Littleton where the earthquake epicenter was closest. A large part of this town’s center is now comprised of holes in the ground. Holes where the buildings had stood. We played tourist and walked the local marina. Marinas on this coast are small to non existent. We’re so far S, that the weather is getting to be rather extreme and the boating season short. We still find pleasure in seeing other boats and talking to other “yachties”. After a simple lunch on the water we headed home to our evenings rest. Tomorrow we head back towards the glaciers. We haven’t yet given up on the heli / hike. That and W/ hasn’t found a piece of jade that speaks to her. She’s hoping; in Hokitika she will.
Wendy has put together a photo essay of our time in Dunedin and Christchurch.