Dunedin

I arrived in Dunedin, on the east coast of the south island, late in the afternoon with no booked accommodation. Fortunately, the first place I tried had availability, and luckily it was a really nice place too. Central Dunedin is mainly located on a long hillside, and the hostel (Hogwartz - terrible name) was over halfway up, giving brilliant views over the city and surrounding hills. I believe that the building used to be a bishops house, and it showed in the grandiose design, high ceilings, and carved door frames. I learnt something on my first night here - I can snore like a champion. In the morning, everyone else checked out of the dorm (some presumably naturally, others scared away by the noisy beast who'd moved in). Two Koreans returned later in the day to try to get another room, and talked about the 'loud sleeping man' to the people at reception, oblivious to me sat round the corner listening. Ah well… no other rooms were free and they had to come back in to the dorm, so I offered them some of my spare earplugs. They left again the following morning. Beyond the hostel was the Speight's Brewery - a tour was compulsory, naturally, as it ends with unlimited free samples - which still used original copper vats for the brewing process. The guide was comedy gold too, and I'd highly recommend that tour to anyone visiting Dunedin. For any Liverpool-based readers who have visited the Cains brewery, Speight's was how Cain's used to be - a top-down layout, copper and brass fittings everywhere, and a feel of an old brewery that hasn't been overly modernised. Dunedin's railway station is a bit of a work of art (at least as far as antipodean architecture goes), and I did try to take one of the long scenic trips up the coast. Unfortunately a cruise ship was in port, and all of the interesting trains were block-booked, but I still took the Silver Fern up the coast for an hour or two. It was a pretty enough trip, but I always had the feeling that the really nice places were beyond the point at which we turned back.
Beyond Dunedin is the Otago Pensinsula, which amongst other things is home to a colony of royal albatrosses. They were nesting and not flying when I visited, which was a shame, so I decided to spend the afternoon driving some of the unpaved roads of the peninsula to see if there were any good views. I found Allan's Beach, around a mile long, which was a pleasant walk - it was also dotted with sleeping sea lions. I followed one as it woke up and headed for the sea, clearly still tired as it constantly paused to yawn. My final stop in Dunedin was the world's steepest residential street - Baldwin Street. With an incline of 38%, its a very strange road, and is a proper test to walk up. Fortunately, instead of a normal pavement, there are steps all the way to the top, but it's still a long climb. For fact geeks - the road surface is made out of cement, as normal tarmac would flow down the hill in hot weather…
Out of Dunedin, I made a bee-line to Christchurch, which would be the final stop on my long circuit of New Zealand. Links: Hogwartz Hostel Speights
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