Sitting here, I had been trying to think of a title for this blog being so tempted to let first impressions count and call it Dirty Dunedin. Since not long after we arrived we walked along George St past all the student flats, on the Friday of the orientation week parties, We even walked past a burnt-out couch, talk about stereotypes. But that would be so unfair on Dunedin as in the three days we visited we saw so much more.
Arriving into Dunedin from Shag Point we took the scenic route that follows the coast past Karitane, Seacliff and Warrington where there was a freedom camp in the reserve. With the main camp closed after heavy rain over the previous days, the car park area was full of freedom campers in all sorts of vehicles parked on the hard to take advantage of the toilets located next to the park. So hopefully no toilet paper left inside the reserve. With the car park full and the main camp closed, we moved on.
I cannot believe it, I didn’t take a shot of the NZMCA camp (#8387) in Woodhaugh, but this is the footbridge behind the camp crossing the stream. Once again we arrived at the camp to find it mostly full with other members but managed to secure a spot for ourselves. I feel really sorry for all the members who arrive at these camps after 5pm to discover every space taken, forcing them to move on. It’s almost time for the Assn. To mark out the campsites with a duty manager, so you don’t have to be concerned if you need to go out in your motorhome.
Getting back to our first impressions of Dunedin. Shortly after arriving at the camp we set off for a walk into the city from the camp that’s about 3kms of mostly flat walk. We could have caught the bus into town, but the walk would do us good as well as a chance to explore. The majority of the walk was along George St. It seemed that there had been a party the length of the street the previous day as litter, broken bottles, burnt couches etc. were everywhere. In some places, the party was still going on, but I guess we where all young once and it must be exciting times ahead for all involved.
As we walked into the city, the press of student number got greater and greater with masses of them filling the pavements as we approached the Octagon. It was interesting to see the Octagon filled with students who must bring a considerable amount of money into the city with the bars filled to overflowing.
Getting into the city which is not really the sort of place that either Sarah or I like to visit we discovered that aside from all the historic buildings there is also a large amount of quality street art painted onto several buildings. We both loved this one. With scenes like these, the condition of the streets was beginning to fade from our memory.
The walk back to the camp took us through the University with its sprawling campus and again it seemed like thousands of students. From there it was through the Botanic Gardens which have a fantastic display of roses. As well as some giant exotic cacti in the hothouse, as well as outside something for all gardeners.
Saturday morning, we set off to explore the tracks behind the camp that run along the riverbank up to the reservoir. It’s a great walk through some really lovely bush, but with one drawback none of the junctions are marked with the direction they are heading in, and the total number of maps showing the walks is zero. So in our view, the council has some work to do in this area. While different from the walk in Kerikeri behind the NZMCA camp, it was still similar and something we both really enjoy doing!
Sunday morning, Sarah, says we cannot visit Dunedin and not visit the worlds steepest street. Checking the map, it is about 2.5kms away from the camp so armed with umbrellas (as it looked like rain) and water in the backpack we set off. Arriving at the street we were horrified to see 2 tour buses stopped at the bottom of the road with people everywhere, but we had walked all this way so no stopping now.
From the bottom, the street looks steep with the walk-up, proving that fact well and truly. I had to stop to take more than a few breathers on the way up. However, it’s not till you get to the top (massive sense of accomplishment) to start the walk down that you realise just how steep this street really is. You cannot see reality in the photos, but it’s almost scary!
Walking back to the campsite, we noticed this house along the way obviously a student flat, with someone having a big night leaving their keys in the front door. These keys had cars keys etc. I wonder when they start looking for them how long before they remember.
With the weather continuing to hold, we set off for a bike ride in the afternoon. Dunedin has lots of hills, and when we were in the city, we had seen a grand building with a flag flying on top of it located near the top of one of the hills. We wanted to look at this magnificent building more closely, so we set off to find it. Not long after we left the camp, we found one of the many pathways that appear everywhere in Dunedin between streets, with this one leading up the hill. It was so steep it was impossible to ride, so we pushed the bikes to the top. From there, we rode along Highgate Street searching for the building we had seen.
Highgate Street rides the crest of the hills so once up there it was a comfortable ride with some terrific views over the city and harbour. We never found the building we were looking for. Although we did see several terrific buildings, including the boys’ school with kids out playing cricket. The great thing about having got to the top of the hill was that the ride home was almost entirely downhill. As we rode along Queens Dr, we saw several stately houses, obviously a very smart part of town.
Returning to the camp, we spent some time talking with our neighbours Glenis and Daryl who hail from Gisborne a really lovely couple who have travelled over 30,000kms in their Autotrail that they have owned for almost 3 years. It’s so good to see people out and about enjoying New Zealand in their motorhomes.
So although my first impressions of Dunedin left a little to be desired, it turned out to be a great place that had plenty to offer. Once again, we found that the NZMCA camp was well located. Handy to all the things we like to do and we’re pleased to find a space for us.
Next onto the Catlins