After a full Tuesday of touring Milford Sound, we used Wednesday to kick back and catch up on a few things. At noon, we walked over to the Fiordland Cinema in town to see a short film featuring the dramatic scenery of Fiordland National Park. The film, called Ata Whenua: Shadowlands, pairs great aerial cinematography with a lovely score to give a picture of Fiordland National Park as it changes through the seasons of the year. Afterwards, Alan visited the barber for a haircut and I worked on making some bookings for our last week in New Zealand.
On Thursday, we drove from Te Anau to the town of Dunedin on the east coast. Dunedin is the second largest city on the South Island (after Christchurch). It is located in the amphitheater-like remnants of an ancient volcano, with Pacific Ocean access through a long narrow harbor. Dunedin was founded by Free Church of Scotland colonists who came to New Zealand in the 1840s, and were clearly nostalgic for their homeland. The name Dunedin is an anglicization of the Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. However, Maori settlements in the area predate English colonization by hundreds of years, as you might expect given the desirable harbor and environs. Nowadays, Dunedin is a university town and it feels both collegiate and a bit European.
We arrived at the Aaron Lodge Top10 Holiday Park with plenty of time to spare, so we set up camp and drove into town to check out the train station. Dunedin Railway Station was built in 1906 and is a large Renaissance style building with lots of decorative touches. The interior is dark wood and mosaic tile floors and hints at its former days as a major transit hub for New Zealand.
We also did a little shopping, as Alan wanted a sturdy pair of trail running shoes for walking and well, running. He found some he liked, for a pretty good price, at a shoe outlet not far from the train station. After Indian food for dinner, we returned to camp to work on photos and the blog.
Today we got up early for a short run around the playing fields in a nearby park. We’ve been off of our bikes for over six weeks now, and I felt like we should do a little more exercise than just walking. After breakfast we drove back into Dunedin to visit the Botanic Gardens. I’m learning that because of it’s British colonial heritage, New Zealand’s cities are home to wonderful parks and gardens. The Dunedin Botanic Gardens are home to a tremendous Rhododendron Dell, a Mediterranean Garden, an aviary, Winter Garden Conservatories and several other specialty gardens. I really enjoyed seeing the birds in the aviary and walking through the Mediterranean Garden. It had a lovely terrace and a fountain overlooking the city in the valley below.
Photos from the Botanic Gardens:
We also visited Baldwin Street, the steepest residential street in the world. I didn’t think our little rental car would make it to the top so we parked at the bottom and walked up the 35% grade. It’s hard to believe how many houses are perched on this steep little street of Dunedin. After Baldwin Street, we drove up to Signal Hill for views over Dunedin and it’s harbor. There were also fantastic views of the Otago Peninsula, where we will be going tomorrow for the Royal Albatross tour. With the 360 degree view, we had some fun with the panorama setting on my iPhone.