I arrived here last Sunday morning by plane via Christchurch. Fun fact: if you’re flying on a short domestic flight in NZ there’s no security. No joke. I walked through the doors at Wellington airport, checked my bag, then walked to the gate. No metal detectors, no x-ray machines, nothing. Just straight up to the gate then on to the tarmac before boarding the plane. Insanity. From the time I got off the bus until I arrived at the gate was 12 minutes. Aside- there was security for a 737 that was there, but not for my tiny jet.
I had a 40 minute stop in Christchurch then on to Dunedin, which is in the southern part of the south island. The Dunedin Airport, unfortunately, is about 25km from the city center and there is no public transportation. It cost me $30 on the shuttle to get to my hostel (as opposed to the $16 in Auckland and $9 in Wellington). Lame.
My hostel however, is incredible. It’s called Hogwartz, and it is by far the cleanest hostel I have ever stayed in. It’s immaculate. There are 17 rooms, so if it’s fully booked that means probably close to 40-50 guests. I’m not positive of that number though because the largest dorms are only 5 people. There are no bunkbeds. Hallelujah! Aside #2- my hostel in Wellington had bunkbeds but they were built into/ bolted to the wall so they do not move at all. This is also perfectly acceptable. The bathrooms have been updated I’d guess 3-5 years ago and look brand new. No stains, no water marks, no nothing anywhere. It’s amazing. They even iron the sheets, which blows my mind. Oh and if you stay a week they’ll do your laundry for free. Like, not just give you use of the washer, they actually wash, dry and fold it for you. That was for sure a highlight when I got here. All that for $26 NZD per night, which is a fantastic price for a non-bunkbed dorm room with only 5 people.
Highlights! Much of time here was focused on preparing for the Master’s Games, which were Saturday- lots of working out, gymnastics and sleeping.
Sky Fitness- It is a small gym about a 7ish minute walk from my hostel. A weekly membership was $40. They had ample free weights and some mats that I used to run through my beam routine. Not typical use for those mats but it was helpful.
Gymnastics- Dunedin Gymnastic Academy (yeah, gymnastic, no ‘s’, they also say bar instead of bars, weird) has an adult open gym on Tuesday and Thursday. I went on Tuesday and it was the worst gym I have ever worked out in. Ever. They did have a good beam though. Regardless, I was able to tumble on the strip and do a slew of beam routines. There was no full size floor, the runway for vault was not full length and I bottomed out the spring-board when I jumped on it from three steps. Open gym is usually $8, but since this is still summer vacation it was $5. And since it was my first time they didn’t charge me!! So, the facility was sufficient for a free workout. The guy who ran open gym said there were coaches practicing at the other gym who were competing in the masters games. I asked if they were holding another practice before the meet and he called them up. Sure enough, on Thursday they were practicing at the much nicer gym. Sweet!
On Thursday off I went to that practice and met the three girls competing. They were super nice and the equipment was definitely better. And yet again, it was free!
Superbowl- Monday after my workout I went into town to watch the superbowl. Late night games in the US are afternoon games here. 12:30pm was kickoff. I went to a bar right in the city center and quickly made friends with the 2 other Americans there, one of whom was from Denver (bad day for him). Not a terribly exciting game but fun enough. Plus I got a boatload of free drinks (and free dinner, don’t judge, I’m poor).
Botanic Gardens- Man I love botanic gardens.
These were beautiful. Much different from Wellington’s. Not better or worse, just different. More manicured, less wild. All the paths were either gravel or paved, there was lots of open grass areas, where as Wellington was forest and trees. My favorite part was once again the Rose Garden.
The purple ones, of course. Some of the roses were literally the size of my face.
Otago Settlers Museum- This museum is free (did you expect anything different?) and covers the early settlers in Dunedin (which is in a region called Otago), the gold rush and the remaining 150 years. Dunedin was originally called New Edinburgh, which is a kind of a clunky name and soon took on the Gaelic name for Edinburgh, Dunedin. The city was originally founded by The Free Church of Scotland who wanted to separate from the Church of Scotland. Sound familiar?
Fun Fact! The first woman diocesan bishop in the Anglican church was in Dunedin. My favorite part of the museum was the memorial to soldiers killed in WWI and WWII. 2600 people from Dunedin died in those two wars. There is a small room/ alcove where the names of all the soldiers cover the walls. Additionally, there is a photo book with one page for each solider. It gives basic information about the soldier, birthdate, branch of service, rank, date of death, where they are buried and then has photos.
Gasworks Museum- This. Was. Amazing. And free! (even though it was supposed to cost $4). This was, you guessed it, a gasworks. I didn’t really know what that meant, only that it’d probably be something I’d like.
Before natural gas, people used coal gas. This was news to me, I don’t know how I missed this. Gas lights, back in the day ran on coal gas, not natural gas. I consider this a significant gap in my education. Moving on.
This specific gas works was in operation from 1863 to 1987. Much of the original plant has been demolished but the engine house still remains, with the original engine that supplied the gas to the city. It is operational. There are also 3 boilers, 1 of which is operational. Or was, until November. It’s now up in Christchurch being rebuilt. The boiler room was awesome. It was 2 stories, brick and there were char marks all over the walls. I don’t know if visitors were really supposed to be in there.
This museums is only open on Tuesday and Sunday from noon to 4pm. It’s run by volunteers and has maybe 1 or 2 full time employees. The employees rebuild and refurbish engines, boilers, old appliances etc, they don’t run the museum, that’s what the volunteers are for. It’s a small museum and is for sure a work in progress. They have so much old stuff, old piping, valves, pumps, but a lot of it isn’t really on display, it’s just sitting in piles. A really old guy showed me around for an hour (I’m guessing I stayed way longer than the average person). He, unfortunately, couldn’t tell me a lot about the manufacturing process of coal gas, but he was still fun to talk to. He was also competing in the masters games.
Pak n Save: I think I’ve mentioned the Pak n Save before but it’s a discount food store in NZ. There was one right around the corner from the Gasworks Museum. I bought a boatload of food for $32. Then had to carry it for the 40 minute walk back to my hostel but it was worth it. Plus they had Whittakers Peanut Butter Chocolate for way cheaper than normal. Delicious.
Non-alcoholic ginger beer- I found a discount fruit and vegetable store on my way back from the botanic gardens (hey-oh! avocados, a bag of kiwis and cauliflower for $1 each) and they were selling non-alcoholic ginger beer. Why have I not tasted this before? It is incredible. I need more in my life. Though I’m pretty sure it’s equivalent to soda, so maybe it’ll be an every once in a while thing.
Spotlight- this store is a cross between Homegoods and Michaels. I wanted to make a bow for the meet so Friday that was my mission. I ended up here.
It was an awesome store and makes me miss having my own space, with my own pretty dishes, and towels and curtains. I spent about 45 minutes just looking around. Eventually I settled on 3 types of ribbon for my bow. Then I stopped at a brake and transmission ‘store’ for some super glue (fabric glue was $5, that wasn’t going to happen). Super glue was $2. That afternoon I worked on the bow. It took me a while, mostly because I had to superglue the ribbon together before I could form the bow. Eventually I figured out a strategy. Here’s the final product.
I was pretty happy with it. Plus it’s sparkly.
$2 Filter Coffee- I found a cafe that sells filter coffee (American style, normal coffee, which is really hard to find) for $2. I’ve gone there 3-4 times now. Plus $1 for a refill. Winning.
I’ll write a separate post about the Masters Games as this one is pretty long. This is also a wrap for Dunedin. I’m leaving in 2 days for Te Anau, which is basically the jumping off point for Milford and Doubtful Sound. I chose to visit Doubtful sound. Hopefully it’s as beautiful as everyone says.