Dunedin is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. The native Māori name for this city is Ōtepoti. The city is also home to New Zealand’s first university – University of Otago. UNESCO recognizes Dunedin as a Creative City of Literature. So we can check another UNESCO site off our list.
Getting sick is never fun but getting sick overseas away from home is twice as bad. Spending several hours in the emergency room upon arrival to Dunedin was the start. I blame the fish and chips I ate three hours prior to uncontrollable nausea for the next two hours. After hearing me heave over and over Doug put his foot down and took me to the hospital. It was a holiday weekend and busy. The worst thing I saw in the emergency area that evening was a girl with a huge black eye. Surprisingly drunks were absent – unlike in the United States. They immediately gave me an iv for nausea and put me in a bed lined up along the hallway waiting for the doctor.
Everyone was patiently waiting and quiet, most people had barf bags next to them (like me). The first note on my medical chart was “fish and chips”. After talking to the doctor about our travels and Israel being our favorite place – he revealed Israel was his home town! His father was a farmer in northern Israel and they moved to Australia when he was very young. After getting his medical license he moved to New Zealand and in addition to being a doctor he also has a beautiful farm of dairy cows on his own. I still blame my the fish and chips but Doug ate the same thing from the same plate and was fine.
Wallabies have become my favorite animal on the planet. They are mostly found in Australia but in the early settlers days, someone brought them to New Zealand and strangely they are only found in Waimate. The locals consider them pest because they eat the native plants and ruin the forest. Gwen Dempster-Schouten started a small sanctuary for wallabies orphaned by hunters called Tame Wallabies EnkleDooVery Korna in Waimate. She started taking care of them in 1977 and opened her sanctuary to the public in 1999. She even has 3 wallabies that are 20 years old (Precious, Posh and Fred). Their natural lifespan is 8-10 years old. Not only does she take care of them from birth at times, she has named all of them and knows each one’s personality. I was in heaven the entire time I was there. After paying a small fee to get in, she hands you a bag of treats, special instructions on petting them and off we went into acres of wallabies.
One of Doug’s concerns was I became sick from kissing on the wallabies at the wallaby farm in Waimate. This was the only stop before eating the fish and chips. I couldn’t help myself and kissed one on the nose. It wasn’t until I was barfing in the hospital that Doug thought of this. Turns out the doctors said it’s “highly unlikely” it was the wallaby kiss.
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum was listed as the number one thing to do in Dunedin. The hotel owner in Mt. Cook also highly recommended it. First we couldn’t believe it was free admission and it connects to a huge Chinese garden outside. The museum displays a chronicle timeline of Dunedin from the early 1800s. The best part was getting into the 1950’s and up. The museum even had a full bedroom display of a teenage boy in the 90s and a teenage girl in the 80’s. They had models of washing machines, computers, motorcycles, cars, printers, ovens, dishwashers, toys and so on from the early 1950s until the present time.
One thing that stood out was Dunedin’s dark side section. This showed the destruction of people’s lives and families in Dunedin because of alcohol and drugs. Even back in the early days of time alcohol was ruining lives and destroying families. But cheers to the people who can drink without disaster! My hat is off to you.
Another thing I’ve noticed in New Zealand is the stores don’t rip you off on souvenirs at different places. In America, the same souvenirs can range in price depending on where you buy it. In New Zealand the souvenirs have been the same price whether it’s the supermarket or airport. This applies to groceries and gas too.
Who knew this was home to the steepest street in the world? Baldwin street is very steep and if you did’t know it was here you would never know. The street is residential and the neighbors don’t seem to mind all of the tourist traffic. We parked at the end and walked up to the top. The view was amazing. When we were leaving we noticed two tour buses pulling up to the end of the street and letting people out. Some walked up and some just took pictures from the bottom. I’m glad we walked up to the top. This is one of those quirky things that I won’t forget.
The Moeraki Boulders were another natural wonder I’ve seen in New Zealand. The boulders are large spherical rocks have formed over millions of years and over time and erosion, exposed themselves at the shoreline. Some of them have cracked open (underwater) and the inside turned to a beautiful crystal. They are large and full of mystery. The Maori people have their own story of why the rocks are there from legend. Lucky for us we saw all of them because the tide was low at the time. We were told some of them are hidden at high tide.
So far things are beautiful in New Zealand and the size of nature here is bigger than anything I’ve ever seen in my travels. I can’t wait to see more of New Zealand and I’m so glad we have the time to do it.