Bike is so clean you could eat on it.
I am spending a day in Dunedin, I always planned to do so only it was going to be on the other side of the Catlins. The bike was not behaving very well so I anticipated the stop and I will go straight through Dunedin next time I’m passing.
I got in yesterday on the gorge train and went directly to the bike shop to arrange for the servicing of the bike. In hindsight that was a minor mistake as I met a real good lad from Newcastle, that might host me later in the week when I come back to Dunedin, and he works as a bike mechanic in one of the other bike shops.
But let’s take things steady. The first impression of Dunedin was really good, it really reminds me of Edinburgh and it is really buzzing. It has that unique campus town feel, but without the stuffiness of the main European and American university centres. The more so feeling like Edinburgh.
I had a real posh room last night, it even had TV which for a backpacker hostel is something unheard of. Today luckily they moved me to a more normal room without the TV which makes me feel a lot more in character.
I’m lucky that I am blessed by an absolute disregard for “what other people think of me” as otherwise I could start feeling a bit out of place in somewhere like this, where the average age must be 20, if that.
As I said I took the old steed to Bike Otago where they not only fixed my front rack but they gave it a good clean and greasing. It looks and feels very good and hopefully it will run well for the other half of New Zealand. Yep, I have worked out that I am roughly at the half point from a distnce point of view.
After i dropped the bike I just had to go and have a look at the other two bicycle shops on the main drag: Torpedo 7 and Cycle World. It was in Torpedo 7 that I med Harry, a Newcastle lad that has been down here for the last 8 years, and is planning to cycle back to the UK with his family next year. He’s on WarmShowers and he gave me his telephone number telling me not to hesitate to go and stay with him when I’m next in Dunedin, which in my case will be Saturday. Had I known I was going to meet him, and it would have taken a big crystal ball indeed, I would have taken the bike to them for the servicing.
I walked back towards the hostel and in front of me appeared the Scottish Shop, just like being on the Royal Mile. I went in full of expectation and there it was the glory of the saltire was in front of me, no pause, no hesitation, it was going to be mine.
The evening was closing in and I did the pensioners’ thing and went to bed with the TV on.
Fully refreshed in the morning I had left myself the tourist stuff, collecting the bike and the food shopping, having the rack operational means I can now use the front right pannier too, so why not go crazy and buy the whole supermarket. Just kidding.
Dunedin is quite compact and easy to walk around in, but it is surrounded by tall and steep hills including the one that houses Baldwin Street, the steepest residential road in the world. I will go past it on the way out of Dunedin on Sunday but I will not attempt it as there is no way that with the gear I am carrying, and the gear ratio on the bicycle, I will manage the 35% incline.
The city centre has a lot of interesting buildings, some of which I have taken pictures of, but the real magic in the city is the atmosphere which is contributed to by the buildings but that encompasses a lot more.
I decided that a trip to a country without a visit to a single museum was not allowed so I went to Toitū Otago the settlers’ museum. It was interesting but not overwhelming, and that is not a bad thing. There were various exhibits and it was all laid out very well and in an interesting way.
There was not the overabundant quantity of priceless and antique masterpieces you find in museums in Europe, but that meant that I could concentrate on what I was looking at and I did not get to the end of the exhibition running and only glancing at the last things.
Not much more to do apart from chilling out and writing things up. I have shaken the plan a bit and I am, thanks to the advice of Andrew and a few locals I have spoken to. I will save a day getting to the beginning of the Catlins with the bus and cutting off a whole lot of farming miles, but I’m going to take a slightly longer way to get to Christchurch going on a minor road that runs just at the bottom of the mountains.
I also have found someone that knew what a teuchter is, she is one of the members of staff here at the hostel who reminds me a bit of Tarn. She’s from Aberdeen and has spent a few years already down under with no immediate plans to go back. The world she says is such a big place, I could not agree more.