Now this is the most I’ve spent in the city of Dunedin and I really wish I had more time here, despite being around for a week or so. I remember coming here for a few days about 5 years ago, of which one of the days ended up being a one-dayer to Queenstown & back. And the remaining couple of days ended up being very touristy as I was here with family back then. This time around however, coming here as a solo traveller and exploring the in & out of this city as well as some surrounds like the Peninsula, made me feel like wanting to spend more time than I actually did. The weather during the week had been up and down with cold & rains at different parts through the week but when the sun was out, I did make the most of it. One of the evenings when I was strolling around the Octagon I picked up a small talk with a Aussie who said “Wellington is a Mini-Melbourne & Dunedin is a Mini-Wellington” and trust me I couldn’t agree more.
Dunedin in a lot of ways is very similar to Wellington, except for the winds of course. The culture, the people, the geography, the cold etc all of it didn’t make me miss Wellington much at all. And every time I was out of Dunedin and drove back into the city, it certainly gave a feel of driving into Wellington CBD. Particularly the drive from North Dunedin/Mosgiel into the CBD, the motorway takes you through a valley and you can see the harbour along with the city with the hilly background, as you enter. Very very similar to driving into Wellington CBD via SH1 through Ngauranga gorge. More over the peninsula drive feels like just the Shelly Bay drive while the Signal Hill Lookout feels like Mt.Vic Lookout ! It felt like Wellington all over 🙂
The city is supposedly the second largest in the South Island with about 135000 residents, it doesn’t feel that big as such until you go up the Signal Hill Road & view the city from the top. A panorama of the city and its surrounding suburbs definitely makes it feel that a size and the views are gorgeous as well. When I drove up there, there was hardly any wind and all my skepticism of being blown away was put to ease when I got out of the car. Plus an added bonus being the sun, which was shining away in all its glory, making the city views even more beautiful.
Other than the usual tourist attractions like the Octagon, the First Church, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Town Hall, Chinese gardens etc there are plenty of things to do within Dunedin. One of the lesser know things-to-do is the drive to the end of the Otago Peninsula, all the way to the Royal Albatross Centre. The drive is so amazing that you’d want to stop at every other corner to click a pick. It’s a beautiful drive that needs to be driven by everyone who visits Dunedin. Majority of the 40+ km drive is along the coast line and while I drove, may be it was a high tide or something but I felt the road was almost at sea level. There were parts the road where the waves would splash on to the road. It was simply, just awesome. And on my drive back from the end point, I even got lucky as I got to witness a full rainbow, right in front of me and I also drove under one!! What an experience that was. The photos don’t do much justice but it was definitely something.
And another one obviously, who can miss the Steepest Street (still an ongoing battle) in the World: Baldwin Street. When I went to this street, there was no one; literally no-one and I for a second thought I must be in the wrong place. Not that it mattered at all. I parked the car, walked up and down & then decided I should drive on it !! I put the car on the Low gear (L) and was about half way up there when I felt the car almost stop, with that my heart almost did too !! But within a second and with my foot on full throttle it made it all the way without any hiccups. And the drive down – phew !! that really really was something. Given it started to rain when I drove down with a camera in one hand (taking a video) and the steering in the other, I was more than just relieved when I made the 30 second slow ride down the angled street. Would I do it again? heck yeah ! Except without trying to video it at the same time !!
The other spot very popular with the locals is a drive down to St. Clair, pull over the car and walk along the wharf watching the waves hit the rocks. I spent an evening by the Esplanade at this amazing spot, walking around the shoreline and was wowed by the silence of winds and crushing of the waves.. It was an evening well spent no doubt. And it was hardly 5kms from the CBD. The weather was a bit on the chillier side; so given how big of a fan I’m I ended up with KFC straight after leaving from there. Why KFC you may ask? That’s the only junk food I end up mostly; as my brain immediately responds KFC to “Protein & Fat (i.e.,KFC) or Carbs & Fat (i.e., Almost every other junk food menu)” whenever I have ask that question.
Ah well after all of those, on one of the finer days when the weather was decent enough, along with a new found friend we both drove to Moeraki to view the boulders. That was an amazing afternoon/evening in itself & I’ll write a separate blogpost about that cuz it deserves its own. And with that I shall also include probably what was highlight of the entire trip – Stargazing at the Otago Peninsula !! Something not many people do much of, particularly staying in a country like New Zealand where there are more & more towns and areas with very little / no light pollution. More about the Boulders & Stars in the next post 🙂
Meanwhile a handful of pics down below. For the full album – CLICK HERE