Dunedin, New Zealand

Like the other cities in New Zealand, the weather in Dunedin was cool. Actually, late in the evening, as twilight faded into the black of night, the wind-swept rain was cold. Having begun my trip in Iceland’s spring, my outerwear was suitable, but I gave my jumpers away in Cesky Krumlov, so I ended up shivvering my way from Penny’s Backpackers to the small grocer in the centre of town – an area known as the octagon. Once I got there, I was able to warm up with a flat white (seemingly the same as a latte, which is also on offer).

In spite of the brisk weather, I enjoyed Dunedin, especially my tour of the Cadbury Confectionery plant – a much more realistic glimpse of manufacturing operations that at the Hershey plant I visited in Pennsylvania. And, since it was Halloween, I felt justified in gorging myself on candy. Heck, I never much excuse; I love candy. Since there is also a Speight’s Brewery in Dunedin, I considered visiting, but after visiting so many other breweries on this trip, I opted to retire to a pub and just enjoy a Speight’s beer instead.

Penny’s has a really marvellous kitchen, so, for the first time since I was in South Africa, I picked up groceries so that I could cook my own meals for a few days. Cooking was fun and tasty, especially the deluxe omelettes that included fresh tomatoes, avocado, roasted garlic and cheese. Since I was in Dunedin, I figured I should do some quintessentially British things, so I had beens and toast for dinner one night. Since the beans were sweet, I enhanced them with some golden onions, seared garlic and grilled tomatoes. My final nod to the UK was an afternoon tasting of some New Zealand scotch from the now-defunct Willowbank distillery. Scotia, a restaurant in the gorgeous train station, has a superb collection of scotch, and I was able to sample Willowbank’s 12-year old single malt, Milford. It was a light caramel colour – much like the Allen’s apple juice I guzzled as a child – and had a long finish, but lacked the character of peaty scotches such as Lagavulin and Laphroaig. All in all, it was a decent tipple following lunch, but not something I’d seek out again. The Willowbank distillery also crafted a blended scotch named Wilson’s, but I didn’t taste it.

Dunedin has some nice beaches and several penguins and (Jessica) Alba-tross colonies. Since the weather was pretty glum during my stay – perfect by Scottish standards – I inclined to head out to the end of the Otago peninsula where most of the colonies are located. Instead, I spent my time wandering around Dunedin, visiting the cafes, chatting with other travellers and taking some photos of the striking First Church of Otago (pictured).

As I’ve moved from one hostel to the next, I’ve seen many different implementation of internet access. Some of the hostels had a series of Windows PCs, others old Apple iMacs (G3), and some a few used old PCs kitted out with one or another Linux distribution – most often Ubuntu. The Jailhouse, where I stayed in Christchurch, actually had a bunch of Linux appliances, that reminded me of the WebDTs that I loved and helped deploy en masse at SaveMart last year. I think that if they had a bit faster CPUs, they’d be the perfect computer for certain people. When I start including technology observations in my travel journal, I think that’s a pretty clear indication that I am eager to start working again. :)

After a few days in Dunedin, I boarded a Pacific Blue flight back to Auckland, where I was too late to join in the 14 (WTF?), 12 and full marathon, but not too late to watch it.