Posts Tagged ‘Dunedin’

On Sunday morning on my way down George Street I saw an aged busker singing “Just for Kicks”. This was
a song Stephen used to sing in his teens with a band of old school mates, and I hadn’t heard it for decades, so I just had to give the singer some coins.

Busker in George Street

From the Bus Hub I took a number 44 bus to Halfway Bush, and then out to St Kilda. It had been a good move to purchase a Dunedin Bus BeeCard beforehand, and because I’m a Gold Card holder all bus travel was free.

Halfway Bush, Dunedin

Back at the Octagon there was a St Andrew’s Day celebration with a duo singing the Lewis Bridal Song, and lots of tables and chairs available. They had a Haggis Pie Eating Competition, the pies being piped in, piping hot! As each contestant finished they had to open their mouth to show that it was empty. The winner received the Sir Eatalot Trophy. As the compère said: “In New Zealand we do Scottish a little differently”. After this I enjoyed music from the Dunedin Scottish Fiddle Orchestra – no saxophones allowed!

Dunedin Scottish Fiddle Orchestra

I spent some time in the Art Gallery which has an interesting mix of exhibits. Later I took the number 19 Waverley bus which had been recommended by a previous bus driver. This gave lots of views of the city and harbour, right down to the harbour mouth. At Bayfield I even glimpsed a royal spoonbill in the water. Towards Waverly the driver stopped at a dairy because he wanted to get a drink, so I went in and got an ice cream and ate it in the bus with his permission.

Dunedin Harbour from the bus

Early Monday morning I walked around the block past many substantial homes, now mainly student flats.

Freddie Mercury mural on the side of “Buckingham Palace” in Queen Street

Then it was time to head for home, with an overnight stop in Ōamaru. Their gardens are magnificent, with roses in full bloom just now. It was intriguing to walk through the Display House as this was the birthplace of Skinny Louie’s daughter in Fiona Farrell’s The Skinny Louie Book, which I’d heard read on RNZ National just a few days before.

Peter Pan statue in Ōamaru Gardens

Hot haggis pies were just one way
to celebrate St Andrew’s Day

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My Dunedin motel had a bench-top induction unit. I’d never used one of these, and there were no instructions, but I managed to poach two eggs for breakfast and felt pleased with myself. The rain had stopped so I headed downtown with a small umbrella but no parka. Tired of carrying a backpack with everything in it I took just a handbag which included a shopping bag. After my success in getting a bus ride back to the motel the previous day I looked hopefully at the stop across the road, but it seemed I’d just missed one bus and although several routes go that way the Saturday timetable indicated I might wait an hour for another.

Mural in George Street

So I walked towards the Octagon, stopping at a pharmacy which offered free hearing tests. My G.P. has suggested it would be worthwhile getting an assessment of my hearing which could provide a base line in case of later need, so I went in. The self-test by Triton Hearing consisted of listening through headphones and entering the digits I heard on a keyboard. They later emailed me to say my result is a strong indicator of hearing difficulties and a full diagnostic hearing assessment is recommended, but I plan to wait until I notice difficulties.

Near the Octagon I was surprised to be greeted by an old friend from Christchurch. She was coming from the Farmers’ Market at the Railway Station which was where I was headed. This is a great venue with a wide variety of stalls, all selling food or plants, no craft items at all.

Farmers’ Market at Dunedin Railway Station

I couldn’t resist some fine looking radishes, and bought tiny turnips to take back to Christchurch. I stopped to rest on the bus stop near the New World Supermarket where the only passing buses were cruise ship shuttles, so I walked all the way back to the motel, and on the way discovered the Playhouse Theatre.

Fantasy mural beside the Playhouse Theatre

Back at the motel I managed to get my tablet connected to WiFi, which was useful for checking email and the weather forecast, but I couldn’t access this blog. At lunch time I finally manged to open the bottle of fruit juice I’d bought the day before. Because I’m “losing my grip” I usually get Stephen to unscrew any difficult tops, and this had eluded me the previous evening. I was able to pierce some of the small metal connections with the tip of a vegetable knife and the juice tasted good.

Despite the forecast of rain I left my parka behind when I headed to Otago Museum. I was keen to visit their Tropical Forest, but felt it wasn’t as good as it had been on previous visits. There weren’t as many butterflies, although I did get one to perch on my finger. The quail, which I adore, have all been replaced by a few parakeets.

Butterfly on my finger

In the early evening I went to the Playhouse Theatre and saw The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard, performed by the Dunedin Repertory Society. A rather strange play, but well performed in an old theatre with difficult access. I felt some of the acting was over the top, but probably suitable for the piece.

Dunedin has a lot to see
all close to centre of city

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Time away from home on my own is rare these days. In fact it’s more than six years since I spent a night away from home and Stephen. When a friend offered transport to Dunedin I hesitated, then thought “why not?”. It’s good to have a break from my usual routines, and interesting what effort, physical and emotional, is required to make that break.

At home I have regular rituals and activities, which have been carefully chosen and developed over many years. One of those is reading a daily newspaper and doing the puzzles in it. In Dunedin the Press is now simply not available in hard copy. The Otago Daily Times is a possible substitute, with equivalent puzzles, but the news items don’t have the same relevance.

Usually I do 15 minutes exercises each morning, then go to my computer to check emails and blog, and do Wordle. I took my tablet away with me, but had difficulty logging on to the motel WiFi at some times, and I never even thought about Wordle. Digital devices are great for keeping in touch, but a few disconnected days gave me a chance to focus my thoughts elsewhere.

Dunedin building facade

It was wonderful to wake in the morning and know I had two completely free days ahead of me where I could do whatever and whenever I wanted. This seldom happens at home, and when it does there are always domestic tasks I could be doing. Saturday morning I woke at 1am to the sound of rain. At home I would listen to RNZ National through my headphones, careful not to wake Stephen. In Dunedin I could put on the bed-light (and the electric blanket, lacking the warmth of a partner in bed), and read or write. I’m currently reading Juliet Batten’s latest memoir The Persimmon Journal which deals with lockdown, loss, and release, and even mentions me on page 172. Juliet’s story of ageing and dealing with physical deterioration is an inspiring example of the changes we face as we get older.

I think of time away as being on retreat, and when I retreat I like to have a question or theme to consider. The solution or resolution can often come from the subconscious. For these few days my non-urgent focus was on future plans. What might I do differently in the coming year? Last year I joined the University of the Third Age and have relished the stimulation those talks give me. The previous year, through a writing class, I produced and published a small memoir which gave me a sense of achievement. What new activity could I choose for 2023? What have other older people chosen? It would be good to increase my circle of friends, something that seems harder to do as I grow older, especially when people die and/or move elsewhere.

I’ve offered to co-facilitate a Summer Solstice ritual for a spirituality group where I’ve not led before. I’m unsure whether I have the energy to do more in this area, but it is an option, especially as there are others who would share the responsibility.

The commitment of formal volunteer roles doesn’t attract me at present, but I’ve found satisfaction when an opportunity has arisen to perform a Random Act of Kindness. How could I build more of these into my life?

Or maybe I’ll just enjoy having more time to myself, and meeting each day as it comes.

There is so much that I could do
Great to have time and freedom too

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Delightful Dunedin

We found lots of fun things to do in Dunedin.  My favourite was the Tropical Rainforest in the Otago Museum, where a butterfly alighted on my hand, and quails shuffled around our feet.


Here’s a slideshow of some other highlights:

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Back to ‘normal’ life now.

“It’s good to see another place
and to come back to our home base.”


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Many Murals

Dunedin has artworks covering many city walls.  The first I saw was a tuatara nibbling at its tail, which reminded me of an ouroboros.


I enjoyed all of them, and am sorry not to be able to acknowledge the artists.

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“The city walls festooned with art
bring joy to any walker’s heart.”

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On a sunny Friday we drove around the Otago Peninsula.  Fletcher House had been recommended for a visit, but we discovered it’s available only on weekends.  However the Happy Hens shop was open.


We lunched at Portobello, a delightful harbourside village.  I had fond memories of the aquarium there, and seahorses, but sadly that is now closed to the public.  The woman in the café told me it’s been closed since the Canterbury earthquakes, but didn’t know what the connection was.  I wonder if there’s anywhere left in the South Island where I can get a seahorse fix.  Maybe Nelson has an aquarium?

I did get to see my first Lilliput Library in Portobello.  These are a mini version of our local book fridge,  If that ever disappears I would love to host a Lilliput Library.

Lilliput Library

Lilliput Library

Driving back the footpath along the harbour looked inviting so I got Stephen to drop me off by the Edgar Centre.  I walked along enjoying the harbour view and the sight of windsurfers scudding along, while holding tightly to my sunhat.


I was pleased to take a grassy path, past the Harbour Mouth Molars, and into an industrial wharf area.

Harbour Mouth Molars by Regan Gentry

Harbour Mouth Molars by Regan Gentry

No sign of anywhere to cross the busy road, and I carried on beside railway lines and signs saying ‘Look for trains’ until I came to the vehicle overbridge at Jetty Street, thankfully accompanied by a pedestrian overbridge.

Pedestrian Overbridge

Pedestrian Overbridge

“I did enjoy the harbour view
around the edge there’s lots to do.”

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Walking around Dunedin I was continually struck by the solid old buildings, many with attractive adornments.  Sad to see the old Penrose’s Department Store has closed.  It’s good to know the building’s been preserved, but being a Starbucks has robbed it of some dignity.

Once was Penrose's

Once was Penrose’s

I was continually reminded of how much heritage is lost to Christchurch now that 70% of our CBD buildings have gone.  Near the Octagon you hear the Town Hall clock chime every quarter hour – I loved that!  Walking up and down hills and stairs must surely have improved my fitness levels.

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“To see old buildings made me sad
remembering all those we had.”

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Port Chalmers Maritime Museum was fascinating.  Its collection includes all kinds of shipping and pioneer memorabilia, including what is purported to be Shackleton’s typewriter.  In the 19th century deck cabin I saw a Moses basket identical to one we were given by an elderly neighbour when our first daughter was born.  The museum is in a former Post Office building, now registered as Historic Category 1, and surrounded on three sides by a working container port.  You can sit in an upstairs gallery and watch giant gantry cranes moving cargo.

Later we sat outside the Union Co. café.  Great logging trucks passed frequently and the ground shook as each one went by.

We saw the Hotere Sculpture Garden

We saw the Hotere Sculpture Garden

Iona Church Tower has a clock

Iona Church Tower has a clock – useful!

View from Port Chalmers

View from Port Chalmers

The port has interesting shops, some of which were closed on Wednesday morning.  The only people around seemed to be coming from a yoga class in the old Town Hall building.

“Around this Port there’s lots to see
above the hill and on the quay.”


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Southern Sojourn

We drove south across bridges that spanned dry rivers and/or trickling creeks amid braided riverbeds.  It wasn’t until we reached Otago that we saw ‘proper’ rivers.  At a comfort stop in Palmerston we admired Sir John McKenzie’s cairn, set on top of a hill, and reminiscent of Glastonbury Tor.


Our room at the Leviathan Hotel was central and reasonably priced, across the road from Toitu, the Otago Settlers Museum (which lacks an apostrophe) and the railway yards.  There are few trains these days and none were audible at night.


In Oamaru we’d heard thunder and there were intermittent heavy showers after that, so we decided dinner inhouse might be the best option.  The small dining room by the bar was a time warp, resembling dozens of others in provincial hotels, with a typical menu.  I had fish and chips and Stephen had a steak.  Several solitary diners were happy to watch the television, which I could have done without.

Breakfast was in the larger dining room.  This was much more opulent with fascinating memorabilia around the walls, e.g. the specifications for the Hotel’s wartime air rad shelter and a photo of the Royal Family in 1880 (looking very Alf-like).  Candles on all the tables were battery-operated.  There was an adequate buffet breakfast for $20 per head, and we decided to seek something more adventurous the next day.


We saw lots of sights and enjoyed our trip.  It’s also good to be home, with our dear Ziggy now released from the Cattery.

Ziggy's holiday home

Ziggy’s holiday home

“Our darling Ziggy seemed to say
He’d rather we not go away.”


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The Christchurch “Press” is an indispensable part of my daily routine.  I love to catch up on local news (usually over breakfast), check the death notices and do the puzzles (usually over lunch).  The Cryptic Crossword, Code-Cracker, Wordfit, and Number Cruncher are mine.  Stephen does the other word puzzles.  The Sudoku are left to languish – neither of us has yet been tempted to these.

When away from home we still seek a “Press”.  In Wellington that’s no problem.  In Auckland Whitcoulls stocks it, and we assumed the same would apply in Dunedin.  Sadly, no!  Whitcoulls in George Street was closed at 9.15am because they were mopping up from the previous day’s downpour.  We went back after 10am, confidently seeking our “Press”, only to be told they don’t carry it and neither does any other shop in Dunedin.  The Whitcoulls woman told me the “Press” has not been sent to Dunedin for the past three years.  I wondered whether this was because of rivalry between Fairfax and the independent “Otago Daily Times”, but she didn’t think so.  The Dunedin Public Library doesn’t have a hard copy of the “Press” either, although they have a dedicated terminal where you can read it online.  That doesn’t give me access to the puzzles!

“I may endure puzzle withdrawal
if I can’t get a “Press” at all.”

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