Day 14 – Around Dunedin and then Oamaru

This was the last day with my sis in tow, and she is even now boarding for her flight back to Auckland. I miss the constant banter and the laughter.

Our stay at the Dunedin Holiday Park was. . .interesting. I’ve become accustomed to a pretty high standard since I have been at mostly Top 10 Holiday Parks, although any that weren’t (Te Anau for instance) were still very good. The Dunedin one was decorated lavishly with bright topical cartoons and brands in the 1960s, and hasn’t been updated since, so things are fading somewhat, and the ablution block was like something out of a prison, with concrete corridor and puddles of water from leaking roof on the floor. Still, let’s not quibble – it was an EXPERIENCE, and we had our camper vans and were close to St Clair beach and the wee restaurants nearby. The morning broke greyish and looking like rain (and according to the weather forecast, it was going to come down by lunchtime.) So I cancelled my scheduled e-bike rental, and we sorted out Helen’s van so that she gave me a few bags to carry home with me, and took her carryon with her. We drove to deliver her camper to the owners who live in McAndrew Bay, halfway along the Portabello Road which hugs the southern edge of the harbour. (And the cycleway that is so promising).

The owners live most of the way up a very steep hill which I forced poor Alfie to climb. I hoped his brakes would hold while I waited for Helen to negotiate the return of her vehicle and the borrowing of their ebike for a short while. They kindly offered to let her have a go along the cycleway, so I drove down to the nearby cafe – The Duck – and ordered a coffee and cheese scone to console myself. Soon Helen arrived to get her helmet out of the van, and head off towards Portabello.

I was so envious! The day had lightened, there was no wind, and the harbour glistened like a mirror. It would have been a task to drive in to the city to pick up the one I had ordered, so I just finished my coffee and decided to follow Helen. I caught up with her kms away – nearly at the end where the road disappears over the hill. Some roadworks forced me to stop at about the place she had arrived at, and we spoke through the window. “Why don’t you ride it back to that other cafe?” She asked. Wow. Sheer delight! And so I did – we swapped. I put the helmet I had brought with me from Auckland on, and rode that bike back. It was such a good feeling! At the Duck we stopped and I ordered another coffee, and Helen had her first. (We returned the bike on the way).

After that it was just a matter of me staying as long as I could before I needed to hit the road again, and Helen enjoying some sights around Dunedin before I dropped her off and she waited until early evening to get the shuttle to the airport. We went out to Port Chalmers, and enjoyed walking the closed shops (Mon and Tues are NOT popular days to find service). We found David Elliot’s shop ‘The Flying Whale’ which I have a print and book from. Unfortunately it was shut for Helen but we took a photo anyway. I drove her out as far along the northern edge of the harbour, past Deborah Bay and the historic hotel there, and out almost as far as Aramoana – but I didn’t want to go into that sad place. (Thirteen people shot dead in Nov 1990). The harbour was lovely in its deep aqua waters, and looked very clear. Out in the sheltered expanse the islands that dot this waterway were like jewels, in their green and bumpy forms, some dotted with brightly coloured houses. I think Dunedin has the prettiest harbour in New Zealand.

Back at Port Chalmers I parked, and we both headed in to the Galley Cafe, which looked very promising, with an outside patio area in back and an events room beyond that. The garden was flourishing with daffodils and magnolia, and a blackbird was building a nest just within reach of the patrons. I ordered a salad, which was delicious, and much enjoyed after days and days of only finding carb-rich food on offer. Helen had a pumpkin curry soup. Very friendly staff and a lively atmosphere make this a popular eating place.

Now I took Helen up the hill on a country road to return to Dunedin – I had to face dropping her off at the Railway Station and heading north. At Iconic Cafe, she unloaded her bag and we hugged, and I left her standing and prepared to read and sip tea for literally hours. She went over to the Railway station and the gallery there, before returning to Iconic. Meanwhile I headed north towards Oamaru, and stopped on the way just after Palmerston on the coast, where there was a picnic place. I felt pretty tired, so I had the luxury of lying down for a short time and sipping my soda water. So far no rain. There was a lot of truck traffic on the road, but the scenery was pleasant and rural and the road not straight.

I reached Moeraki not long after getting back on the road, and enjoyed walking the beach to get up and close to the spherical boulders that Moeraki is famous for. These are formed due to the hardening of Paleocene mudstone, which was buried in the cliffs. Over time the waves have eroded the softer stone to reveal the spheres beneath. Very cool.

Only half an hour past Moeraki, I reached the outskirts of Oamaru, the Steampunk Capital of the World! (Don’t argue that with me). I attended a Steampunk festival here a number of years ago, with Helen, and we dressed in full regalia and enjoyed ourselves immensely amongst the Victorian buildings and steampunk memorabilia. Check it out.

It was 3.30pm and I looked to my side from the driver’s seat, and there parked opposite were an elderly couple licking ice creams outside the dairy they had purchased them in. That was enough for me – I was in there and getting my single cone vanilla and doing the same shortly. Then I drove to the Top 10 Holiday park and booked a powered site for the night. Oh, and a spa! Only after I had, did I get informed that the yellow eyed and blue penguins all are nearby and if I’d booked at the ocean holiday park they would have crept up to sleep under my van at night. Sheesh. I have consoled myself with my spa, and am about to put together a salad from the remains in the fridge. It didn’t help that when I bit down on a gummy supplement it ripped off the front of one of my molars. Still, I think I can make it back home without needing an emergency dentist.

Ho Ho! This is the life for me!

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