We arrived in Dunedin in the evening at around 6pm on Monday 24th April 2017. We had been invited to a birthday tea (or dinner for the non-northerners out there) for Lynley (Robin’s wife) and her sister, her brother, his wife and his step-son at a brewery called Emmersons. Niall hadn’t felt up to it so I went out with them on my own. I hadn’t met her or any of her family before but, of course, they were all lovely and welcoming and I got on well with them all. The food and drink was also really good so, all in all, it was a great evening. I had to leave for the meal pretty much as soon as we checked in to the hostel and got back around 9:30 so we didn’t have a chance to explore any of Dunedin until the next morning. On the way back from the meal, Lynley and her sister Gaye, showed me a famous street for students in Dunedin called Hyde Street. They told me it was the street every student wanted to live on and that the rent was a lot higher than other houses for that reason. Every year the street gets closed off and they host a giant street party for all the students in the area (how fun?!). The students union has now got involved so that it’s a bit more organised and safe and one house even had a bar in the front garden all year round ready for the event – no wonder people want to live there!
Dunedin is designed to mirror Edinburgh so the street names are all designed to be the same as in Edinburgh – it’s super common to have names the same as back home in NZ and Australia because of how we colonised the area (they also often repeat the same names everywhere – our colonising folk weren’t the most creative people out there!) Dunedin is also considered New Zealand’s oldest city but I’m not sure it is easy to tell that when you’re walking around it.
Tuesday 25th April 2017 was Anzac Day in New Zealand and so a lot of the shops were closed until the afternoon. We started the day having a look around the city and saw the town hall (I always love how grand town halls are!) and then headed to St Paul’s Cathedral. There are loads of different churches around Dunedin as the Scots came to escape the more rigid religious system they had in Scotland. For this reason, anyone could set up a church and practice any religion they wanted in Dunedin. We only visited St Paul’s Cathedral but we saw a lot more of the churches and cathedrals as we walked around the city.
At the local information point (the i-site) we picked up a map that showed you where all the street art was throughout Dunedin. The art is done by a variety of artists both from New Zealand and internationally which i think is pretty cool – this is very different to the more informal street art that we saw in Melbourne. Some of the art was really good and even more impressive to be on such a grand scale but others were a bit stranger and, although still impressive, didn’t take my fancy as much. My favourite piece of art was of a boy on another boy’s shoulders catching clouds with a big net which was on the side of a huge building and could be see from a car park.
Dunedin was the first place in New Zealand to have a high school, a university and churches. There are a lot of old buildings (old for New Zealand not the UK) dotted around between the more modern buildings which may be why people think it’s similar to Edinburgh – we didn’t really see the similarity. One of my favourite buildings was the railway station that’s still used today. It is an enormous (the biggest in New Zealand back in the day), grand building with a very long platform like you see in old movies. It’s set away from other buildings which I think makes the building stand out that bit more and makes it that little bit more impressive.
Our hostel is attached to a pool house so we played a few games of pool (Niall beating me every time) before we met Lynley for more of a look around the city. Lynley took us to Baldwin Street which is the steepest street in the world. We walked to the top which actually wasn’t as bad as we had thought it might be and there were some great views from the top. Near the top Niall had to start pushing me up which made it really easy for me and, obviously, harder for him. I’d like to keep telling myself that I found it easier than I thought due to my improved fitness on this trip but I’ll let you be the judge.
Our next stop was to Signal Hill which Lynley hadn’t been to before (she has only recently started working in Dunedin so it was nice to discover a new place with her). We were all very glad that we drove to the top in Lynley’s car as it was a long, steep hill and would have taken us forever to climb to the top. The views were great and showed us all of Dunedin as well as out to sea.
Our penultimate stop with Lynley was to look around her university campus which was really pretty and had a river with a nice bridge running through it. I love old fashioned campuses and you could see that this had been mirrored in that way which I really liked. Lynley then dropped us off to Speight’s Brewery for a tour we had booked there. We had been recommended this by quite a few people and we were looking forward to doing it.
The tour started by telling you the history of beer. How it began with the Egyptians who called it Bousah (which is apparently where the term boozer comes from). The Viking’s used to use the skulls of their enemy’s to drink from which is where people New Zealand and Australia coined the phrase ‘skulling’ which means to down your drink (well that’s what the tour guide said so it has a chance of being completely made up!)
The brewery has a water source that runs under the brewery so they put a public tap on the outside of the building and an honesty box of 10 cents a litres which they would then collect and add $25,000 at the end of the year to give to a charity. One day, a local Dunedin newspaper (the Otago Daily Times) published a front page story that the maintenance on the brewery had led to beer coming out of the public tap instead of the water and they wouldn’t be able to get it fixed until midday! The streets were full of people from all over, many having travelled from other parts of the South Island to be there, all to find out that it had been an April Fool’s – a very good one too! I love that story as it’s something I could still see fooling some people today and if you’re free you may as well pop along and check it out just incase, right?
We were shown the equipment that used to be used to make the beer and some of the equipment that is still used (a lot of it is in areas that are off limits). It was interesting learning the phases they go through and what has changed or stayed the same over the years.
Our tour ended in the bar where we were given a lot of free samples of beer to try. They give you half an hour where you were able to drink as much as you liked of a choice of five or six different beers from a light lager to a dark bitter. The minors on the tour got soft drinks and crisps and I asked if I could have some crisps too as there was a packet left so we had crisps as well (beer and crisps are a great combination after all)! The tour itself wasn’t spectacular but the beer tasting at the end made up for that and we still had a good time.
The next morning, at around 10:30am we were picked up by our tour and were on the bus for most of the day. We only really stopped for a toilet break in a place called Roxburgh which is only notable as they had fully automated toilets which played music and spoke to you – a quite surreal experience in all honesty.
We then drive to the Clide Dam which was completed in 1991 and was about an hour away from Queenstown. This was a bit of a pointless stop really but at least it gave us a chance to stretch our legs. We got into Queenstown just after 3pm which was great as it meant we could spend one last afternoon in our favourite place in New Zealand. We walked around, sat by the lake and chilled. I also went to the Remarkables Sweet Shop to get more free fudge and we had the 2-4-1 cookies at Cookie Time. It was a nice chilled night and I’m glad we had been given a bit of time to soak up Queenstown one last time.
Sending Love x