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Dunedin: An Ancient Rainy City

Dunedin: An Ancient Rainy City

Dunedin has a fascinating history as New Zealand's second largest city. As soon as we arrived, we felt the undeniable Scottish influence and subsequently, the comparisons to Edinburgh. 

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We got in on a sunny day and soon learned that such luck is a rarity. We took advantage and explored the bluestone Victorian buildings within the city limits. Our hostel was walking distance to the city's epicenter, The Octagon, an eight sided plaza by the main drag downtown, George St.

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We stopped for a drink at Zanzibar downtown. Dunedin is an university town and when classes are in session, the city has a young, energetic vibe. There's no shortage of places to grab a beer.

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The city is also known for their street art scene. In fact, Dunedin has a renowned Street Art Trail, in which an art map can help navigate a self-guided tour. Dunedin proudly housed New Zealand’s first public Art Gallery and first Art Society, and thus the Street Art Trail perpetuates a legacy rooted in creativity.

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We loved walking around, finding hilly streets and funky cafes. Moreover, it felt like walking through a past world, surrounded by the ancient architecture. Unfortunately, as forecasted, the sunny weather was short-lived and we spent our remaining days in the chilly rain. The temperature dropped to the 50s, and the front on the South Island's east coast was due in part to the last hit of former cyclone Gita. 

 Walk downtown from our hostel

Walk downtown from our hostel

The moody weather lended itself to taking full advantage of having a home base with a spectacular city view. Accordingly, the hostel we stayed in was dubbed Hogwartz and built in the 1800s. It was a suiting landing place when our surroundings felt ominous. 

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Nonetheless, the rain didn't hold us back. We layered in our windbreakers and set out. Not wanting to venture too far, we enjoyed more walks through gardens, this time the Dunedin Botanic Gardens.

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Perhaps our favorite yet, it's New Zealand's first botanic garden. We enjoyed stunning views over the surrounding neighborhoods.

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I'd argue the rain provided an even more beautiful perspective of the horticultural and botanicals.

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It was an impressive collection of rare and endangered native plants. Now, Will and I have an embarrassing amount of experience in such gardens.

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Wandering any city without context allows for coming across hidden gems. Will was impressed by the Dunedin Railway Station, built in 1906 during the growth of the railing system.

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Naturally, I was more interested with the Cadbury chocolate factory across the street.

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On days that the rain and wind were too strong, we dedicated to museum days. We made several stops at The Dunedin Public Art Gallery. We learned that Gordon Walters was one of New Zealand’s most impactful modernist artists.

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The exhibit, New Vision, centers around geometric abstraction, largely inspired by indigenous  Māori art. He explained his art is an attempt to understand his own environment.

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We got into a daily routine of coming in from the rain late afternoon and warming up with tea and biscuits. 

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Which we'd enjoy with the view from our room.

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The reality was that we spent a fair amount of time getting work done, reading, playing cards.

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I loved wandering around town because there was so much to learn, to experience. But honestly, it felt nice to just be. We've seen some wild views. We keep getting surprised how the sites top the previous. Trying to slow down will forever be a challenge for me. I don't think I'll ever quite master it. However, traveling in this manner will be a test of endurance. Will reminded me, "we're doing this for a year." I know this. But when he recently reiterated the sentiment, it sunk in. We're going to burn out if we don't take a deep breath. A rainy Dunedin was a wonderful lesson in seeing what you can, but not pushing it. I think we found a nice balance, which I hope to continue.

 View from our room

View from our room

South Island: Mini Adventures En Route

South Island: Mini Adventures En Route

Lake Tekapo: Traversing Turquoise Waters

Lake Tekapo: Traversing Turquoise Waters