Monday, May 05, 2008

The Big Trip: Dunedin

We had a pleasant day in Dunedin, the largest city in New Zealand’s Otago Province in the southeastern corner of South Island. It was our last landfall before Australia.

Dunedin is at the far end of Otago Harbour but cruise ships dock further up at the bay, at Port Chalmers. From Port Chalmers (Chahmuz, in the Kiwi dialect) we took another coach tour, this time to Dunedin’s CBD, also known as the Octagon, and from there to:

(1) Olveston House. Impressive enough, a big Edwardian pile, but the ladies who run it have the Museum Nazi quality in spades, so much so that there was a particular, prescribed way for carrying your book bag and if it wasn’t just so they gave you grief about it. After the third admonition (as if having it clutched tightly to my chest was a problem) I said “screw it” and walked out, against traffic through the narrow corridors, to get some fresh air. They wanted to know where I was going and I told them “anywhere but here.” They were shocked, just shocked, I’m sure!

(2) The Otago Museum was really, really great. All kinds of natural science stuff (scale models of Moas, for example) plus an attic showing how the original museum was set up (butterflies for days) and a small but cool exhibit on the development of Down Under swimwear.

(3) A look up Baldwin Street, allegedly the world’s steepest street. Long and steep, yes, but without the dizzying change in perspective you get on Lombard Street in San Francisco, for example. Probably didn’t help that we were at the bottom instead of the top.

(4) The Dunedin Botanic Garden. A pleasant enough little place, although the canal that separated it from the upper part of the park was not terribly well-kept. On the other hand, it was right across from one of the Univesity of Otago playing fields and I enjoyed watching the young men practicing at the cricket pitch.

Back in Port Chalmers, we did a walkabout on our own, up to the Lady Thorn Dell, a rhododendron garden and viewing platform overlooking the harbor, and then back through the little town for a coffee before heading back to the ship. We didn't leave the ship again until three days later, when we reached Melbourne.

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