Summertime is wonderful, no mistake. I love the longer days, balmy temperatures, barbeques, firepits, salad from the garden, and not having to supplement feed the animals. Some of my most out-there ideas come when I am standing, hose in hand, watering the garden and even the most revolting, sticky-hot chores are endurable when there’s the promise of a quick splash in the pool at the conclusion of duties. One thing I have only recently realised though, and embarrassingly late in proceedings at that, is midsummer is not the time for new projects; right now it’s all about shuffling your boots from one prioritised job to another and turning a blind eye to the rest because, even though the days are longer, they’re never going to be long enough.
So, with this in mind, we decided to take a few days off. No, it makes no sense but life, we assured each other as we loaded the car, is for living and it will all be waiting, we wryly added as we waved goodbye to The Tinyhousers, when we get back.
Our destination? Dunedin; Edinburgh of the South, the principal city of the Otago region and an ecotourism big-hitter. It’s home of the Dunedin Sound, The Highlanders, New Zealand’s only castle (which isn’t really one, but let’s not get into that right now), the world’s steepest street (it’s official!) and, the reason for our visit, the University of Otago. Farm Girl has her eye on her future and at the moment that revolves around a medical degree – and in New Zealand, that means Otago. One for planning ahead, she wanted to check the place out.
Our journey south was a leisurely affair. Morning tea was at Temuka Pottery, where we rummaged the shelves and might have come away with a piece or two because, well, it’s Temuka Pottery – no kiwi house is in fact a kiwi home without some of it and everyone loves the humble-beginning story of the 1930’s National Electric and Engineering Company saving themselves a few bucks by getting their insulator makers to chuck a few tobacco pots together for their customer’s Christmas freebie.
Next stop was Oamaru. In my younger years, Oamaru was always grouped together with Timaru (despite them being about an hours drive apart) and it was always the lesser of the two. Now, showcasing it’s limestone (called Oamaru Stone) Victorian buildings, it’s calls itself the Steampunk Capital of the World and has a vibe all of its own. It feels like a seedy port town done good – in a funky way – and we really enjoyed our wander around Friendly Bay and potter through the eclectic mix of shops in the Victorian Precinct before deciding on grabbing a bite to eat at the circa 1870’s Criterion Hotel. It was a good decision!
When you tell people you’ve been “down south”, guaranteed the first thing they’ll say is, “Did you stop at the Boulders?” The Moeraki Boulders, huge, round, bowling ballish rocks on the sandy beach that look kind of like a giant’s been playing marbles. are one of those obligatory visits. Depending on how the sea has been behaving, they can be toweringly massive or almost non-existent ; when we visited they were putting on a pretty good show. Standing close to them feels a little odd; maybe they’re New Zealand’s answer to standing stones or maybe I’m just a little fanciful.
Then it was pedal-to-the-metal, full-steam-ahead to our final destination where a needless check-in tussle with the motelier (resolved) was balanced out by a pleasant leg stretching stroll around our temporary neighbourhood.
“Dunedin,” one of us was heard to utter (the unpleasantness of motel check-in still fresh), “Please shine! We’re looking to entrust something pretty special to your care in the not too distant future.”