While I’ve spent a lot of time getting the most out of Wellington, it’s important for me to remember that I’m here to travel and explore the country, so when the chance to visit Dunedin came up, I jumped at it.
I have a friend from back in the UK living there now, and it became the perfect opportunity to see her again and explore a new place at the same time.
My first time on the South Island
So, I hopped on a plane and flew south. Again, I’m extremely lucky to be in a country where this is possible, given how Covid-19 is still playing havoc across the world, but my visa is temporary and that means I’ve got to make the most of the time I have here.
It was only a 90-minute flight from Wellington, and it was dark by the time I flew, so there wasn’t much to see. That being said, coming back from Dunedin more than made up for it with plenty of gorgeous views from up high.
Given that we’re in winter, I expected cold weather and packed accordingly (although, to be fair, I took most of my clothes – that’s just how it goes when travelling light in general). I must have gotten lucky as the temperature was pretty similar to Wellington, but less windy. The nights did get a bit colder, though.
One of the perks of visiting a friend in a new place is a starting point of places to go, see and do. While I’m more than happy to just walk around and see what I find – and I did do that – it helped a lot to go on a drive around the area.
This took us to the beach at St Clair, where a sign told me how far we were from London (and this is probably the furthest point from home I’ve been – and may ever be), before continuing along the coast to Sandfly Bay. There were a few stops along the way so I could be the tourist and take some photos of the area, with the city and rolling hills prominent.
We also made it to Signal Hill Lookout and took in for view. For clarity, this is one hill I didn’t climb but the street my friend lives on is not far away from this and pretty steep in itself. That one I did climb. More than once.
It’s not the world’s steepest street, but that was close by – and one hill I didn’t want to climb!
Speight’s Brewery Tour
Speight’s is a popular brewery and you’ll find their beers across the country. When I found out the brewery was in Dunedin, I figured it was a great opportunity to go for a tour – and there’s a sampling at the end, so bonus!
The tour takes you through their history and shows their old brewing setup (which still works and runs once every six-months or so) before ending with their current equipment. In the past, it was a gravity-based system, and the tour takes you to the top of the building and you work your way down to the ground floor.
Fun fact: James Speight, one of the three original founders, was from Yorkshire!
The Chinese Garden
The Chinese Garden in Dunedin is smaller than the one I visited in Sydney, but no less stunning. It offers a reprieve from the bustle on the other side of its walls. Built around a lake, there are plenty of places to sit and think, and you’d be surprised at how little noise there is with all the traffic just over the walls.
I saw more than a few people studying, drawing, reading and just thinking here, all of which I can understand. It’s a picturesque and calming place, and easily accessed in the city centre, next to the Settlers Museum and train station.
Catching up with an old friend
As mentioned, one of the reasons for this trip was to catch up with an old friend. I’ve been lucky to meet some amazing people on my travels so far, and luckier still to meet up with people I knew at various points. Not everyone who goes travelling has those experiences.
Still, after so long apart, we had a lot to catch up on and it’s great to see her doing so well.
Through her, I met new friends who I’m hoping to be able to see again in the future, since there’s more of Dunedin and the surrounding area still to see. They also treated me to some fire spinning – and some of the stuff they can do literally blew my mind.
I even got to have a go myself, and that was both exciting and terrifying. Who knows where that path might take me in the future!
Although, while Dunedin had some great moments, some paled in comparison to our weekend trip. That deserves its own post, so check back later for the trip to Milford Sound!