14th December
written by Hope

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:

taiaroa head

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 pyramids
The trail to Victoria Beach, with the Pyramids in the distance.

The beach was deserted (I know, shocking), except for some penguins and a sleepy sea lion.

penguin wobble
Penguins make really funny land animals. That waddle is hilarious!

penguin tracks
Penguin tracks.

Our next hike was a loop that stopped at 3 different sights. First, something called The Chasm. It’s basically a really giant cliff.

the chasm
Now that’s what I call a chasm

Next stop was Lover’s Leap. You could just see some Montagues and Capulets jumping off of this one:

lover's leap

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.

mum and lion pup
A mom and her lion pup.

The hike down into the bay was really incredible…you pass down a steep walkway through sand dunes and tropical flowers.

the trail to sandfly

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.

sandfly beach
That’s steep.

On the Otago peninsula, even the car parks are stunning!

otago peninsula

That night, we freedom camped in a lovely rural spot and watched the sun set on another stunning day in New Zealand.

incredible sunset


  1. Adam

    Still loving riding around with you for this amazing adventure, Hope and Jeremy. Your photographs are unbelievable.

    I just feel so terrible for you about all the reality television and (American) football that you’re missing while you’re away.

    Obviously you didn’t realize the Real Housewives of Orange County would be starting a new season just as you were departing.

  2. Hope's Dad

    After I sent out my annual report, Uncle Henry and Auntie Wendy start to read your blog reports too.
    Are you in Australia already?
    For my experience, looks, they all do have, but, character wise, Sean Connely was the numero uno double O-seven.
    Winter has arrived to San Diego. It rained all day today. I even used the umbrella. Temperature is in high 40’s or low 50’s this afternoon.
    love your pictures.