|September 12, 2011
In the morning we packed up and left and headed back on the road. This time we were heading right the way across the country to Dunedin and once we had left the pretty west coast, much of the drive was flat and quite boring. We’d seen plenty of sheep and lambs as we drove around this time but none as interesting as the four we saw running around which had been painted with various flags of rugby nations competing in the world cup. There was an England one, NZ and even a brightly red, yellow and blue-striped Romania one!
It took us about 3 hours to get to Dunedin and we were not able to check in when we first arrived so we went to get some lunch. We were near one of the main streets, George Street, which has lots of bars and restaurants along it but many of them where Asian food which neither of us fancied. We decided to stop for a burger at Velvet Burger. Elizabeth went for the lamb option and I had venison. The burgers were really good. We’d read one review saying they were decent after you’d had a few drinks but I thought they were fine as they were! We had a short walk around the shops and then headed back to check in. Our room wasn’t ready when we got back, either, so the lady upgraded us to a better room and we were able to at least get our bags in there and out of the car. It was quite a decent room and even after yesterday of doing nothing I was quite glad to put my feet up in front of the TV for a while. We’ve visited a lot of places we’ve been to before while we’ve been here and that has been nice as we’ve not felt pressured into trying to fit lots in. We’ve still done the major things we’ve wanted to like going to Coromandel and the boat trip on Doubtful Sound but we’ve been able to laze around and just enjoy our down time, too. With driving most days, too, even if it is for only 2 or 3 hours, it soon adds up and takes its toll. I have felt really tired at times after some of our shorted day drives out and I’m looking forward to giving the car back in a week or so and letting other people transport us around for a while!
There was unfortunately no rugby tonight so we had to make alternate plans and we found a nice Indian restaurant doing a dinner special of any curry plus a beer for $20. The place was empty whilst the restaurant next door offering similar prices was pretty busy. Nevertheless, we decided to give it a go and we weren’t disappointed. The woman serving us was really friendly (probably glad just to see a customer!) and the food was lovely, with two very spicy curries, some good kulcha bread and beer, too. I was struggling to think of the last time I went 24 hours without having something alcoholic which is not a good thing but I know once we get to the US I’ll have more days when I don’t drink. The stupid thing here is that soft drinks, even in the supermarkets, are almost as expensive as beers. Even a 500ml bottle of coke in the supermarkets is over $3 and we can get a beer for similar! It’s just too tempting!
September 13, 2011
Today we were intent on getting out and about. We had a couple of errands to run first so after getting up and having breakfast, we headed into the city. Our first stop was the Regent Theater where we were able to pick up all the tickets for the rugby matches we were going to. That job was easy enough and the next was, too. We had just found out that our bank was charging us for every cash withdrawal we were making so we decided to go into a branch and take a larger amount out rather than going to an ATM every day.
Back at the hotel, we grabbed our lunches and headed out. We were heading out to the Otago Peninsula and this was where we had done our tour when we were last here to see the penguins and seals. We decided to stop at the aquarium along the way but what we didn’t realize was that most of it was unheated buildings and there was plenty to see outside as well. The weather was cold and the rain drizzled lightly but it was mainly the biting wind which made it seem so bitter. The aquarium itself was nothing special other than a cool outside tank full of small sharks and some interesting cold salt water fish, many of which are only found around NZ.
After freezing ourselves at the aquarium we carried on along the coast road towards the end of the peninsula and the Royal Albatross Centre. We had stopped here before and had seen a couple of the huge birds in the distance but despite the strong winds today we didn’t see any of them. We sat in the car and had our lunch, admiring the view out over the ocean and decided what we wanted to do. We decided that given the strong winds and on/off rain that any walks would be a bit of a challenge and we decided to head back into the city and walk around instead.
We dropped a few bits back at the hotel and then sought out the Cadbury factory. It was only a block from our hotel and although we didn’t want to do the tour again we thought we’d try and sneak into the shop for some cheap chocolate! You’re only supposed to use the shop if you’ve bought tour tickets but we thought we’d try our luck anyway and we weren’t the only ones. We bought a couple of bars of chocolate each but some other tourists in front of us were buying stacks of large bars and we know they didn’t do the tour as they came in off the streets at the same time as us! Considering a regular bar of chocolate is around $2 around town but just $1 here you can see why people would want to try and take advantage, especially as these guys were spending about $60-70!
We next found a bar to try a local beer called Emersons. We’d tried to find a bar serving this before but hadn’t had much luck but now we were inundated with choices. This bar, called Albar, was a Scottish bar and we were the only ones in there, what with it being mid-afternoon in the middle of the week! Elizabeth had the Bookbinder Pale Ale and I had the 1872 IPA (or something similar!) and they were both good. We didn’t want to have too much though as we wanted to head to Speight’s next. The plan had been to go to The Speight’s Alehouse for dinner but it was still early and neither of us were hungry so we made do with just a pint of the fresh beer. Of course, we couldn’t resist the shop either and I managed to persuade myself I needed a t-shirt, helped by the 20% discount we get with our youth hostel cards. After that we just wandered around the shops and tried to work up an appetite. The centre of Dunedin was reasonably busy by this time as the schools had finished and a lot of people were out and about. It was noticeable that there was a lot more homeless-looking people in this city compared to others and it certainly seemed a more blue collar town than either Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington. Plenty of the kids were walking round in what were clearly second hand uniforms and one boy was wearing a pair of shoes that were about 5 or 6 sizes too big for him and the way he walked just to keep them on was doing nothing for his bone structure or posture. It is sad but, if he is like most British or American “inner-city” kids, I bet at home he has a brand new pair of Adidas or Nikes.
For dinner we went to The Bog Irish bar. We’d wanted something hot to eat and this seemed the best option. Inside the bar it didn’t look very welcoming and there was only one couple eating. Their food looked OK and they weren’t throwing up so we guessed it was good to go! I ordered the steak and kidney pie with mash and gravy and Elizabeth had the bangers and mash. This came with three massive Cumberland sausages which I ended up helping her finish! Even so, with my pint of beer, I was fit to burst and had had just about enough food for a week or two…