Sunday, January 25, 2015

Roadtrip: Dunedin

Our week-long trip had enough stuff and photos to spread it out over a couple posts, so this one will be about our first stop, Dunedin.

Dunedin is the second-largest city on the South Island of New Zealand. It is supposed to be about 4.5 hours driving distance south of Christchurch. was raining most of the way so I drove more slowly. I was very glad we got new tires put on before we left. We made it into the city too late to be able to do any of the things only open until 5 (because we got a late start out of Christchurch, having to drive our cat to the cattery on the other side of town), so we headed out to our Airbnb place to stay. It was our first Airbnb experience and it was a lovely home with a big, upgraded bathroom and kitchen. Our hosts were very friendly and their 9-month-old dog was nice, too.

Our host suggested going out to one of the beaches on the peninsula to see some sea lions. We saw two animals, either sea lions or fur seals. We also saw a bird with a long beak poking holes in the sand to find food for its two chicks. It started crying at us when we got too close. Afterward, we drove out to the end of the peninsula which is an albatross and penguin breeding colony. You have to fork over a lot for the tours, so we hung out with the large population of seagulls nearby instead. On our way back to the car, far away from the hoards of gulls we had just been around, one decided to target D and pooped on his head! I tried cleaning it off with a napkin, but it didn't help much and was so gross! After cleaning that up at home, we stayed up late chatting with our hosts about the city, our life so far in NZ, their kids who all live abroad, and eventually NZ and US politics. It seems to be a lot safer to do that here than in the US which is kinda nice.

not the guilty one :)
The next day, since the weather was still bad, we skipped the Larnach Castle and instead went on a Cadbury Factory tour. It was a 75-minute tour through the actual factory and we all had to wear hair nets and take out everything from our pockets and take off jewelry. I couldn't help but inwardly shake my head at the wall display as our energetic host explained the ingredients that make up their milk, dark, and white chocolate. I wish those were everything that was used! It was missing all of the additives and preservatives actually listed on the candy bars. Example: Sugar, Full Cream Milk, Glucose Syrup, Vegetable Fat, Butter, Cocoa Mass, Milk Solids, Cocoa Butter, Food Acid (331), Emulsifiers (Soya Lecithin, 471), Humectant (422), Salt, Flavours. May contain traces of Nuts. Ultimately, the New Zealand brand, Whittaker's, makes much better-tasting chocolate than Cadbury. It doesn't cut corners.

After an obligatory photo stop at the Dunedin Railway Station, the most photographed building in the country, we visited the ToitÅ« Otago Settlers Museum which was a good, big museum (and free). I can't imagine trying to survive here after coming off a long boat journey. What a risk! We had a little time leftover before 5 to do some of the Otago Museum (also free) which is located next to Otago University, the oldest university in NZ. I enjoyed the section on the birth of modern conveniences -- they really are so relatively new in the history of the world.

leopard seal (the bad guy in Penguins of Madagascar)

Otago University's pretty architecture
Next we drove to the steepest public street in the world, Baldwin Street. Several other groups of people were also there, and some even climbed it! A couple enterprising homeowners had little shops run out of their houses on one side of the street with t-shirts and refreshments. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I guess. We learned during the Cadbury tour that every year, 75,000 Jaffa balls (orange and chocolate balls) are released at the top of the street and the first 5 to make it to the bottom are winners. Charities get the proceeds from selling raffle tickets for the numbered balls. It sounded like a great fundraising idea.

The following day the weather cleared up so we got the nice harbor view from our place that I was hoping for. We took the high road on the peninsula with great views of the water. Then we were back on a two-lane highway to our next destination: Queenstown!

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