The question “Which Scottish settlement is Dunedin named after?” would have an obvious answer…and from the Scottish capital city of EDIN- Burgh, we find ourselves in Dun – EDIN. The “Burgh” obviously translating itself somehow as the word “Dun” in either Maori or Kiwi speak. Either way it wasn’t an obvious place for me to visit.
A cold, university city situated very far south on New Zealand’s South Island, this place gives itself a Scottish appeal in architecture, mannerisms and weather. No kidding, it’s a bit of Glasgow chucked whacked into the Southern Hemisphere.
The approach to Dunedin was inspiring. My bus drove down a hill, and I was surprised by the size of the city in front of me. In New Zealand and Australia, the word “city” is very misleading. To class Rotorua and Parramatta as “cities” when separately they could be “villages” or “suburbs” gives us that bit of Aussie and Kiwi over-sensationalising which is typical of Oceanic ways. Dunedin, on reflection certainly lives up to its label as a city.
Arrival in Dunedin saw me lost instantly. Getting low cost buses often means you end up in “bus stations” that aren’t really bus stations. Such was the case as my Intercity Bus (a wonderful journey through mountains, old fashioned towns and sublime wilderness) pulled up into an industrial area which looked as Scottish as Gordon Strachan. Smoke filled the air and my bags were too heavy. But, with most of the day left, I was free to enjoy the sights and charm of “Edinburgh’s Southern Hemisphere Sister”.
Problem one – where in Dunedin was I? Problem two – where in Dunedin could I stay? Problem one’s answer was I was opposite the chocolate factory’s rear entrance (where the juggernauts go) and just five minutes down from the railway station. I quickly got a map of Dunedin and decided first to go to the iSite. iSite is basically the excellent tourist information service in New Zealand. It was a wee bit of a dander and I passed no hostels or b and bs on the way.
Problem two was my own fault. I hadn’t booked a hostel or particularly wanted to. This had to be more spontaneous, or myself hadn’t been organised to book one, the likely answer. Camping was an option for me, but this was a big industrial city and I was somewhere central. For the sake of an extra few dollars a night, I could have the comfort of a hostel with a shower, hopefully a nice central location and the chance to lock up my bags as I explored this city of wonder.
I got to the iSite in “The Octagon” are of Dunedin, which was very helpful. They could see I was struggling with me bags and they informed me of 4 suitable hostels nearby, giving me a map in the process. 2 hostels had recently closed down, local tramps watched me pass by with my mobile home and the Scottish sunshine gave a Mediterranean appeal to this downtown CBD.
It took me less than 5 minutes and I opted for the first hostel. It was Dunedin Central Backpackers. Not as straight forward as I thought though, I rushed up the stairs and asked for a single bed for the night. “Sorry we dont have any” came the reply, and I was ready to turn away, realising in my haste he might have mis-understood me. I meant a single bed, or any bed in a dorm, not a single room. And right enough he had thought I wanted a single room. So they had a spare bed, in Room 4 in at the back. I got changed, put my stuff in my locker and was ready to see Dunedin. Already I liked it.
It was a short and sweet trip. Within a day I would bid my farewell to Dunedin, perhaps for this lifetime, yet I wanted to see some things there and enjoy it, but without spending a lot of money. I would tour the city centre for free. I would then get the bus tour down the Otago Peninsula, maybe have some food and drink in Dunedin before getting a nice bit of sleep and moving on. Some people think that is moving too fast. These are the “some people” who see less in life. One day in Dunedin was enough for me, for this part of my lifetime. And as well, if I liked it, then I would go back someday…
I booked my castle tour for 3pm that afternoon, which was a full bus tour of Otago Peninsula, and takes you all the way to Larnach Castle, what is described as New Zealand’s “ONLY” Castle. That will be covered elsewhere on here, what of Dunedin itself?
For me the architecture, the buildings and the rare slice of Scotland you can’t quite believe is there.
It was nice to see a Northern Ireland fleg for sale in the fleg section of the shop. “We kept getting asked for them” said the shop owner to me. Class!
Though I used my own travelling fleg in this photo.
The central “square” of Dunedin is actually an “octagon”, which merits a post in itself, this mixed up with my Larnach Castle visit, my dander round town and my night out with Chinese lady Snow gave me exactly the Dunedin experience I wanted. For once life had worked out OK and the very next morning, I wandered alone to the main train station to catch my bus northwards through unknown towns, for a second visit to Christchurch…
Well down life’s crazy crazy helter skelter, I made it safe and sound in and out of Dun-Edin. Thirty years on this planet and I still haven’t stepped foot in its more famous pre-decessor, Edin-Burgh. The capital city of Scotland appears to have passed me by…
FLOWER OF SCOTLAND:
ROD STEWART – OOH LA LA, WITH THE CORRS:
WET WET WET – LOVE IS ALL AROUND:
INTERCITY BUS TO DUNEDIN:
ON A BUS IN DUNEDIN:
DUNEDIN RAILWAY STATION:
CENTRAL BACKPACKERS, DUNEDIN: