Note: We’re in Australia!…living in a MUCH smaller van for the next two weeks. This should be interesting… Please bear with us while we figure out our new routine!
The next stop on our visit to the south island was Dunedin and its surroundings. Dunedin is pronounced dun-ee-den (not doon-uh-din, as I originally thought) and I remembered this by repeating to myself: “Ma! I’m done eatin’!” For some reason this really cracked me up. Lucky Jeremy, he got to hear me say this sentence every time the city name came up.
The weather was still pretty poor when we got to Dunedin so Jeremy and I headed for the local theater to watch Quantum of Solace, the new Bond film. Our review: not nearly as good as Casino Royale, but Daniel Craig still looks good. OK, maybe that’s MY review.
Anyway, that’s pretty much the only thing we did in the city of Dunedin. Actually, it’s a pretty cool city architecturally…many of the buildings are Victorian or Edwardian, remnants from NZ’s Scottish heritage. But, as we’ve learned in NZ, even if the cities are cool, the natural surroundings are where it’s at.
So, the following day, when the sun finally showed its glorious self again, we headed straight for the Otago Peninsula, which is a body of land directly to the southeast of Dunedin. The very tip of the peninsula is a albatross breeding ground, which is pretty heavily touristed. It was incredibly windy there and it smelled like bird poop. Still, it was pretty:
We did two pretty easy hikes here: the first one to Victoria Beach, via a trail that passed by “the Pyramids.” We didn’t know what “the Pyramids” were, but they sounded cool! Once you get to the trail head, you can figure out pretty quickly what they are:
The beach was deserted (I know, shocking), except for some penguins and a sleepy sea lion.
Our next hike was a loop that stopped at 3 different sights. First, something called The Chasm. It’s basically a really giant cliff.
Next stop was Lover’s Leap. You could just see some Montagues and Capulets jumping off of this one:
And finally, a place called Sandfly Bay. Yes, we willingly went to a beach called “Sandfly Bay.” Not sure what it is with these Kiwis…maybe they title their gorgeous sites with awful names to keep people away? Anyway, there weren’t any sandflies here, but there were a bunch of sea lions. These guys are HUGE!!! You are supposed to stay far away from them because they will attack if threatened. Also, be sure not to pass between where they are on the beach and the ocean since this is their only escape route.
The hike down into the bay was really incredible…you pass down a steep walkway through sand dunes and tropical flowers.
But conversely, the hike back out wasn’t so great…hiking up steep sand dunes in the hot sun = not so fun. Still, the effort was worth it, as it always is here in NZ.
On the Otago peninsula, even the car parks are stunning!
That night, we freedom camped in a lovely rural spot and watched the sun set on another stunning day in New Zealand.