Covering Grounds: Dunedin

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ~ Terry Pratchett

   In the 8 months that I’ve been in Dunedin, I’ve done a fair amount of traveling within the area. Nestled amongst mountains and home to the University of Otago, Dunedin has perhaps not become home, but a part of my life that’s truly contributed to the way I am today. I turn 23 soon, and I find that my experiences in Dunedin and the handful of amazing people I have met on this 8 month journey have made a change to who I am; in my personality, my thought-process and enhanced me one step further to my pathway of identifying me. Hence its true; travel really does make you a different person, and Dunedin has definitely built up my third-culture roots. 🙂

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   There are several – more than several actually! – breathtaking places that I really enjoyed visiting during my stay here. Hence I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences below – listed in no particular order. Also, there were one or two places that I wanted to visit but somehow kept missing upon? So those have not been mentioned here, such as Tunnel Beach for example.

Note: I’ve tried to keep this short but covering 8 months worth of visits in and around Dunedin has been surprisingly much longer to cover. So hope its not too long of a read – and if nothing at all enjoy the pictures. 🙂

   The Botanic Gardens of Dunedin are vast and so pleasant to the eye. The first time I went here, I simply took a book and intended to gather some thoughts about some blogging. Plus after a couple rainy days it was the day of sunshine that really got my attention and wanted to get me moving, and the glinting of sun rays spread across these green acres were truly blissful. When I moved flats in the second semester too I was fortunate to live right by the entrance of these gardens, and a walk on a sunny day with the warmth on your skin and the immense flora and fauna really is a stunner.

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   St Clair’s Beach is perhaps one of the beaches that really is most talked about within Dunedin. Sometimes choppy, sometimes calm waters of the Pacific beat this light golden sandy beach, and is popularly also known for surfing. Its also cold too! The wind in this area is always chilled, yet then again I haven’t been here during the summer to know if it gets better. I’ve heard the sunrise colours on this part of the East coast are worth a visit, and the sunset shots that I’ve experienced have been pretty sweet too. 🙂

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   The drive out to Port Chalmers was one of my favourites on a sunny day. It was one of the first drives I went out on once I got a car, and the views that came out were some enchanting ones. Eyes were on the road – of course – and the horizon beyond that… In fact, my friends used to tease me that every time they saw the sun they knew I’d come along and say “Its such a gorgeous day! Lets go out on a drive.” And its true. The sunny days in Dunedin were ones I craved for and loved taking drives on, with the view of the azure waters just across these winding roads. In the nearby areas I also got the opportunity to visit Long Beach and Aromoana Beach, in which the latter was simply a glorious spread of seashells across the pale white soft sands.

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   The Otago Peninsula is another popular spot for tourists and residents living in the Dunedin area. I actually first went here within my first week in Dunedin with my Master’s classmates, and have been here once more since then with a couple more friends. On a sunny day with the good company of friends it really is a worthwhile day trip. The views are spectacular, and if you’re lucky you can even see the albatross or penguins, however we were not fortunate enough – too calm days to see the former and not late enough to see the latter bird species.

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   Signal Hill is worth the one hour trek up, if you’re up for it!. One of the first hikes I completed in New Zealand (although you can drive up as well, and it only takes about 20 mins to drive to), my friend and I had a warm summer’s day trekking up and were rewarded with this beautiful sight. The view of the city of Dunedin just spread in front of our eyes, with the blue sky and blue waters really is a picturesque treat. 

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   Going via Port Chalmers and further north of Dunedin you can hit upon the Moeraki boulders, which I’d heard a fair bit about. On a ‘warm’ winter’s day my friends and I decided to set off on the route and then pursued to reach here, which was interesting with its rock formation across the beach area. As I mentioned before, the drive in this area is truly a spectacular one, and not too far off from Dunedin (just about an hour’s drive). 

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   Of course, no trip to the Catlins and Nugget Point is a miserable one. One that I’d heard a lot about, and this location is not necessarily in Dunedin itself but a possible day trip out of the city, the Catlins is where you can reach the southern most point of the South Island (not including Stewart Island) – Slope Point to be precise – and the view from there is a breathtaking one. Before that you can also hit upon Nugget Point, in which when I’d gone I’d just missed the sunrise but reached just after it instead. The trip beginning just at the crack of dawn (literally!) was so worth the view shown below – with these amazing rock formations nestled out in the ocean against a cloudy sky glinting against the sun rays.

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   And so, 1036 photos later, a handful of friends, and nostalgic memories to warm the heart, I question myself this, as others do too understandably: Will I be back? I don’t know. My Father told me that once I left Malawi I’d only forget about it, however all that’s happened since I left in May 2012 is that I’ve gone back each year since then; for my friends, and for home. The same will happen with Dubai, and although New Zealand is one fair stretch out, I imagine at some point in time I would love to return for a short visit. 🙂

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