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Published: November 26th 2006
Kia Ora one and all! We hope all our friends and loved ones are well. Hope the Americaners had a happy Thanksgiving with lots and lots of turkey and pumpkin pie. We are having a belated Thanksgiving feast tonight, so preparing to burst our waistlines and fall asleep on the couch! Oh, and congratulations to Fiona and Martin on expecting their second bambino!!
Well, it's been a while since our last update, mainly because we've taken a break from the hostelling and travelling, and have settled down for a few months. We have settled in Dunedin on the south east coast of the South Island, and have been here for 3 weeks now. It wasn't a place we had planned to visit initially, but I got offered a short term contract down here and now that we're here we really like it. It's supposed to be a little like Edinburgh, and I guess it feels a wee bit scottish with the street names and old buildings, but not really like Edinburgh exactly. It's alot smaller and actually feels like a small town more than a city. It's the kind of place you have to spend some time in to discover
Christchurch at dusk
From the port hills to the south of the city
what it's got to offer and it hasn't disappointed so far. There are alot of really cool places to eat and drink, and just minutes drive out of the city, there are some awesome natural wonders to explore. Here is just a summary.........
We'll begin with the drive down from christchurch, where we saw the creepy but cool moeraki boulders on Moeraki beach. They looked like meteorites that have crash landed on the beach. The Maori regard them as resembling food baskets from an ancient canoe that is represented by the South Island (the North island represents a fish). The more scientific explanation is that they formed millions of years ago as minerals formed around a core of calcium carbonate. Whatever the explanation, they were pretty cool.
On arrival in Dunedin, we did the usual hostel check-in the then walked around town. I spent the first couple of days nervous about my interview, which actually went well and luckily I scored a job. Rob spent the first couple of days putting up with my nerves and even joined me uncomplaining while I dragged him round the shops looking for sensible interview shoes (I had brought numerous pairs of
These almost perfectly round boulders sit on the tide line
flip flops and trainers, but no shoes...oops). After deciding that we were definitely going to stay in Dunedin, we set out to explore the surrounding area.
Our first outing was to Sandfly Bay on the Otago Peninsula, about 45 minutes drive from the city (we can see the peninsula from our house). It was incredible how the landscape changed just a few minutes drive away from town, such is how this country seems to be. We slid down some huuuuge sand dunes to the beach, which we had to walk along to get to a hideout from which you can see Yellow Eyed penguins. Knowing Rob, I knew how excited he'd be about this.....he loves those funny little waddlers! While we were walking along the beach we came across loads of Hooker's sea lions. They were huge and just laying there, usually in couples...two of them were even cuddling! Pretty amazing to see up close, and it reminded us how far south we were. On arrival in the lookout, there were two other people there with binoculars, who seemed like they'd been there for a while. The penguins usually appear out of the water after a hard days fishing
late afternoon, but this is really variable so you just have to wait quietly. Gradually lots more people came into the hide, and soon we saw our first penguin pop up on to the rocks. Yellow eyed penguins are very rare, so it was amazing to see.
The next thing for us to do was to find a place to live. We were getting pretty fed up of moving from hostel to hostel (though most of them are really nice) so we got on a mission to find our palace. The local paper has loads of ads for places to rent every wednesday, so we got up early, looked at a couple of places and chose the cute little apartment which we now call home. It's in a great location, elevated on the hills above Dunedin, about half way between the city and where I work. We get great views down over Dunedin Harbour and Otago Peninsula, right out to the Pacific. The building itself used to house the workers from the Cadbury's factory in town, and now has been divided up into 6 apartments. We even have a cat that comes to visit us which we call Ronald.
We're not sure if he's homeless, but he seems to have singled us out as his family.
So the next few days were spent doing lots of boring domestic things that don't really warrant a description here. Mainly buying potato mashers, dodgy patterned duvet sets and the like. I know if I were in Scotland, we'd be doing the Ikea thing.
I've been working in my job two weeks now and I have to say I'm rather liking it. It's in a small rehabilitation centre for people who have had strokes and head injuries. I know it doesn't sound like a bundle of laughs, but the team I work with are all really nice and the patients are awesome. They do some really good work there, so great experience for me. Rob has also scored himself a job which I am a wee bit jealous of. It's in a gourmet cafe that sells lots of cool food like olives, breads, cheeses, olive oils, cakes etc. Linda, we'd be in our element!!
So now that we're both working we have to save the exploring for the weekends. Last weekend we went to the Peninsula again and did a
walk (tramp) to two cool vantage points called The Chasm and Lovers Leep. The coastline is pretty dramatic, loads of cliffs, rocky beaches and huge waves, so our camera is getting well used. From The Chasm we spotted the famous iceberg that has been floating along off the coast of Otago for a couple of weeks now. It's one of a few that have been the talk of the town lately. People have been taking helicopter tours to see them, and some are even wanting to get married on one! There are more on the way apparently. Global warming for sure.
This week we went to one of the many nearby beaches called Tunnel Beach, which is only accessible by a man made tunnel through a cliff. In the 1870s Dunedin entrepreneur John Cargill intructed a tunnel to be carved through the sandstone cliff so that his family could have access to the beach near his home. It's rumoured that he gave it to his daughter as a birthday present.
As you've probably realised, we are visiting alot of beaches, and yesterday was no exception. This time it was nearby Long Beach. The tiny village which sits on
Dunedin from the air
obviously not my picture
the beach is pretty laid back , with a hippy commune called the Rainbow Camp right on the beach. It's a great place for rock climbing so we watched some climbers for a while then checked out some caves. Rob was laughing at me for playing in the sand, but the sand is so white and sugary soft that it would be rude not to really. After Long Beach, we checked out Baldwin Street in Dunedin, which is the world's steepest street. The are not kidding!! We got a good bum and thigh workout walking to the top. Actually going up is easier than coming down as it's on such a steep gradient. Apparently once a year the have a foot race up and down the hill which anyone can take part in......I think I'm washing my hair that night, damn!
So that's a wee summary of Dunedin so far. The next even on the calender is of course Christmas. It's wierd for us coming from Scotland and Michigan, to have Christmas in summer. The town is full of the usual decorations and trees, but it just doesn't feel the same. We're going to a Santa parade in town
Sand Fly Bay
On the pacific coast of the Otago Peninsula.
next weekend to get in the mood. I know my Aussie pals will feel the same about having Christmas in the cold.
Oh, and we still haven't made it to the Cadbury's factory or the Speight's Brewery so that's next.
Bye bye for now, Rob and Kirsty xx
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