Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dunedin (49) Day 4

Dunedin, located in the region known as Otago, is the South Island's second city (after Christchurch) and was founded by Scottish settlers. Dunedin being Celtic for Edinburgh. It even has a statue of Robert Burns at it's centre.

We arrived into Dunedin late after travelling down from Oamaru via the Moeraki Boulders. We found a Top 10 holiday park and set up camp, metaphorically speaking, for the next two nights. Dunedin's centre is known as the Octagon and it was there that we found the Nova Cafe and had something to eat.

The next day the plan was simple enough, have a look around Dunedin and then head to the railway station for the Taieri Gorge Railway experience. Little did I know that most of my morning would be spent tracking down wool shops listed in Sharon's "Crafty Girls Road Trip" book and most of my afternoon photographing her FO's! If you don't believe me check out her blog here.

Here's a few pics taken around Dunedin.

After traversing the city we headed down to the station for the rail experience.

Now let me quite clear about something. In the AA's 101 list, it lists the Otago Rail Experience as number 16 and from what I can understand the Taieri Gorge Railway is the first part of this trip, and I hope to God not the highlight. The Lonely Planet states the following in relation to it "some visitors rate the Taieri Gorge Railway as one of the great train journeys." Note how the author didn't say he thought it was one of the great railway experiences!!!!! Damning with faint praise if you ask me. Here's a pic of the train station and the train.

We were absolutely dumb founded for the whole trip but unfortunately it was not in a good way. Some of the highlights of the trip were, stopping to look at a statue of a dog- see pic below- and stopping on the way back-as a treat because the driver had made good time- to look at Peter's knob. Peter's knob being the earth mound that Peter used to stand on regaling the passengers with his stories about the route presumably until he too lost the will to live. A plight most of the passengers were suffering from within an hour of departure.
Not to worry though there was a bar on board and while the others were getting their picture taken with the over sized statue of a dog- hardly Michelangelo's David I might add- Sharon headed to the bar for some well earned refreshments.
Spectacular is a word often used to describe the New Zealand landscape and in most cases it is more than apt. Our driver and guide however must have had a different idea of what spectacular meant and used it to describe every blade of grass we passed on our trip. The only thing worse than the trip was having to do it all over again on the return leg, Peter's knob or no Peter's knob! Here's a pic of the dog and one of Annette whose look of total despondency speaks volumes.

We decided not to head back to the camper van site on our return and headed to the local cinema instead. We had booked a restaurant recommended by B called The Palms the night before and headed there after the cinema. We were late and not sure where we were going so we rushed most of the way and arrived a little out of breath.
To say we lowered the tone, would be putting it mildly. On our arrival the maitre'd offered to take our bags and jackets but stopped short of going out and buying us some decent clothes, only just it has to be said. It was one of the more expensive places we ate on our trip and although we enjoyed it, it was not the best food experience, but to be fair it had some stiff competition.
We awoke the next day and headed to Baldwin Street in the suburbs of Dunedin, home of the worlds steepest street. Here's a few pics.

There is a debate about whether it is actually the steepest street in the world or whether Lombard St. in San Francisco is but, with a gradient of 1:2.86, it doesn't take from the sheer madness of it.
I could say that the street made such an impression on us that we left a piece of ourselves behind when we left that day. What would be more accurate however would be to say that we left part of the camper van!
I was pulling out and decided to do a little shimmy into a side road in order to do a type of U-turn. The little voice in my head kept on suggesting that a six berth camper van was not exactly made for "shimmying" and wouldn't you know it but the little voice was right. As I was pulling out I thought I heard the sound of something smashing. Sharon got out and had a look and said that there was a load of broken glass and plastic on the ground, but the van was OK. A little confused, if somewhat relieved, I tried a simpler maneuver and drove on to our next destination, the Catlins.
It was while we were parked at a lake later that day that I noticed that the light over the door, made mostly of glass and plastic, was suspiciously missing. Suddenly Sharon's words came back into my head and also the realisation that we were not so lucky after all. On closer inspection there were a few other small dents and scrapes and one didn't have to be Sherlock Homes to deduct that our camper van had unwillingly been caressed by a telegraph pole!
Luckily we had bought out all the excess on the insurance so it was not an issue on our return. So that was our time in Dunedin, eventful if nothing else although I am not sure whether any of us would have ranked it in forty ninth place especially considering that Christchurch comes in at sixty first. Perhaps if the numbers were reversed it would have made a great deal more sense to us.
The Taieri Gorge Railway, approach with caution.

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