Sailing into the harbor of Otago, we did not get the sense that Dunedin was a thriving metropolitan city— of course we read nothing of Dunedin, so as we took the shuttle bus from Port Otago (yes… more logs) and traveled 100 meters around the corner into the town of Port Chalmers— thinking it was Dunedin, we thought…. ‘Christchurch…. we could have walked here’, except the shuttle kept going. Oh. I guess that was not Dunedin… another 15 minutes along a picturesque bay a very large city was looming in the distance. As it turns out, Dunedin is the second largest city on New Zealand’s South Island
The shuttle dropped us off in the center of Dunedin’s octagon, a pedestrian reserve with a park and paved area, split by a carriage way.
If you are going to get dropped off, this is certainly the place because almost everything you need as a tourist is right here or in view of.
We asked a local where the train station was (at least we knew that much) and the kind man pointed us first to the i-store, which in Kiwi is the tourist information center located on one of the octagon sides.
While in the -store we asked of things to see and do and one of the reps suggested a tour of the Olveston Historic Home in addition to the Train station. We booked our tour to the Olveston House,
Another good reason to be dropped off in the octagon is for the nearby restrooms
With an 1 1/2 hours before our scheduled tour of the Olveston historic home, we headed south along the octagon and down Stuart St., which is lined with restaurants, pubs, and shopping. When you get to the station, you stop— because you have to or get hit by a car, but the view prevents you from going another foot.
The station is an architecture of a time passed, when the means of travel itself was a destination and not a chore .
Outside and in the main lobby, you could spend hours. Inside offers an art gallery where you can purchase art and gifts or walk the rooms of artwork and sculptures.
I wish we had a few days here to take one—if not all— of the many rail excursions: The Taieri Gorge into the mountains; The Seasider which travels along the bay up into the mountainsides with view of the Pacific; or one of Dunedin’s luxury line tours.
With about forty minutes for a planned twenty minute walk to the Olveston Historic house tour, we had no idea that north of the octagon, everything was built on the side of a cliff. Dunedin, short of having to be spider man to live here—makes the streets of San Francisco look like downtown in Boca Raton, where the highest point is stepping up onto a curb.
After we got back to the ship and looked up the streets of Dunedin, we discovered that until 2019, Dunedin had the steepest residential through street in the world (Baldwin Street). Number one is Ffordd Pen Llach in Wales. There is a street in Pittsburgh, steeper than Baldwin, but is not actually considered a residential through street.
We thought of ourselves in pretty good shape with a lot of walking endurance, but this was like a stress test. We made it just in time and waited for our heart rates to settle down… even the gals behind the desk cringed when we told them we walked from the train station. They quickly poured us cups of water. However, we were quickly distracted by the gift shop items— I finally got a kiwi.
But all was quickly forgotten as the tour of four of us led by a guide through this stunning home built in the early 1900’s began. This was truly a showcase home with the most modern technologies of its time. Nothing has been altered or changes since the estate was left to the city of Dunedin— it was move in ready even by today’s standards.
We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but the grounds were so inviting and usable.
The walk down was not going to be an issue— unless you tripped— either way, you were getting back into town.
I am including this next image only because it serves as a reminder to all of us, north of the equator, that not everything turns clockwise: all the water in toilets and tubs drain counterclockwise, the faucets, the doorknobs turn counterclockwise, they drive on the left here. The Maori have a saying, ‘your past is in front of you and your future is behind you.’ It took me a bit to understand this, but Bill McKay explained this to me: you can see your past— it’s right in front of you— you can see where you have been. Your future is unknown, therefore you cannot see it— it’s out of sight, in back of you. The Maori had a perception of the world that is counterclockwise to our own.
But New Zealanders sure do know how to make public restrooms. For instance, while in Picton there were public restrooms— very upscale— with flashing lights on the outside to identify which were occupied and which were not. Upon stepping into one of these capsules, a motion control sensor kicks in and a voice from above instructs you to press a large flashing red button that will lock the door for you as well as remind you that there is a ten minute maximum stay— which seems wildly excessive until soothing music is brought up and you look around and notice it’s nicer than your bathroom at home and that ten minutes might not be enough time. Where’s the snooze button?
We wanted to stay in Dunedin for much longer than a day provides, but with deteriorating weather conditions— from our Captain— we headed quickly toward the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island before the storms in the Tasman sea kicked up. The captain thought we would get into some high waves and wind by morning…. and he was right (see earlier post). Unfortunately for us, it meant not being able to travel to Tasmania, where all aboard were eagerly wanting to go.
With our fingers crossed, we skirted up the west coast to Fiordland, (yes… fiordland and not fjord land) to hopefully get into Milford Sound.