Dunedin – Otago
We arrived in town under the greyness, and although now accustomed to this kind of weather, associated with the big city’s concreted areas, everything seemed very sad after the beautiful Otago peninsula. Anyway, we still choosed to discover the city and using this time to make a first cultural stop, direction the museum.
Toitu Otago Settlers museum
This is where we will hang out for a good part of our afternoon.
The entrance is free and takes you through several centuries of the city’s history.
Since the founding families, coming from the other side of the world, to the present day, passing by both technological and mechanical collector’s items.
The city historical center
Difficult to miss the historic heart of the city, shaped in octagon and surrounded by various religious buildings, from the first church in the city to the St. Paul’s Cathedral. We will unfortunately not have the chance to visit all the interiors having exceeded the schedules of visits.In any case, the historic center, lined with various architectures and pubs full of locals, is a lively and happy district that reconciles a little with the city “commercial” zone composed of concrete and unattractive buildings.
In the same idea we decided to continue our little cultural visit while passing by a second museum during our 2nd day, the Otago museum.
We spent a pleasant moment there amazed, as always, by the quality of the exhibitions and informations offered while the entrance is free.
We continued our afternoon wandering through the streets and shopping centers of the city before heading to Baldwin Street.
What about this place that would not be exceptional if it was not the steepest residential street in the world. A fun stop and become a must in the city.
In short, whether you decide to climb it by foot or by car it is the ritual passage in Dunedin.
De Dunedin à Oamaru
We leave Dunedin towards Oamaru city which will mark the junction to the Canterbury region and the famous Mount Cook. On the road, we will make a short detour to go for a walk about twenty minutes on a white sand beach, to go to contemplate, at low tide, a small natural arch, dug into the cliff by the sea.
Nothing special, but it’s a nice stopover before spending the night in the Warrington Reserve, where the free campground has been perfectly setted to accommodate vans, tents and caravans. A real plus for this space that attract, because of it, a lot of visitors. It’s also another very nice spot to go to discover the local fauna, namely penguins and sea lions.
Shag point & Katiki point
Two more privileged points and all designated to go to meet the wildlife. In Shag Point it’s the little sea lions we watched playing on the rocks and in the cove below, it would also appear that a colony of yellow eyes penguins resides not far from the place but that access there is restricted in order to protect it. In any case the contrast of the rock’s color, a warm orange, and the clear and turquoise sea is really splendid, and the place is full of sea lions.
It’s at Katiki point that the consecration will finally happen. There, on the beach below, not far from the sea lions and while we were there in the middle of the afternoon, we will finally meet two yellow eyes penguins. Finally !
Moeraki is a must in the region, therefore this is also a place always crowded with tourists who came to take the picture. It’s true, however, that these consequent rocks have a very intriguing structure. Almost perfectly round and smooth, there are about fifteen scattered on the beach and accessible at low tide. An interesting stop but that has absolutely nothing to envy to the Koutu boulders in Northland which have the merit of being less touristics.
Park yourself at the DOC’s free parking area to avoid the 2$ charge from the cafe parking, you will only have 100m more to walk.
We spent a few days in Oamaru waiting for the rain to stop on Mt Cook. Indeed, once engaged on this trajectory there are no big cities where to stop to wait for better days.
Unfortunately, we didn’t do much except spend time at the library, and offer us the visit of the alternative art “Steampunk” house. An original concept that would certainly be more successful if the proposed experiments and exhibitions were maintained, which was, unfortunately, not the case during our passage there, where half of the elements were no longer working.
Finally we also discovered, between rainy hours, the beautiful and consequent public garden and the Victorian precinct that we found super nice. Animations, bars, galleries, curious exhibitions and exhibitions of curiosities on a rich architectural environement that ends on the harbor. A charming and pleasant district that is out of the ordinary, certainly the most interesting part of the city.
To conclude, we can’t say that we have been enchanted about this part of the South Island. We went through Dunedin during school holidays which made it a sad place, and the gray and wet weather didn’t help. The Otago peninsula and the coast towards Oamaru, even if very pleasant, didn’t touch us more than that, especially after the crossing of the coast of Catlins. If we had to redo it, it’s a part that we certainly would not privilege.