6 – 7 April 2010, New Zealand
Although we typically prefer to visit rural areas rather than cities, Jason and I were both pleasantly surprised by how much we thoroughly enjoyed our short time in Dunedin. Like many university towns, Dunedin is filled with things to do, including plenty of reasonably priced restaurants. Thrilled that we could afford to eat out, we indulged in sushi and Turkish kebabs during our two day stay. To top it all off, our hostel was exceptionally nice and within walking distance of everything, including the public library where we took full advantage of the free internet; a real rarity in New Zealand.
Determined to make the most of our short time in Dunedin, we basically did a whirlwind tour of some of the city’s most popular attractions. The Otago Museum and the Otago Settlers Museum were high on our list of places to visit, and we managed to squeeze in a visit to both. It was interesting to gain some historical perspective on the area and to learn more about New Zealand’s early immigrants. We also couldn’t resist a stop at Cadbury World, the chocolate giant’s factory, for a tour of the production area, plenty of facts about the company’s history and a bag full of samples. People rarely visit New Zealand to admire architecture, but we were told the city’s 100 year old rail station was worth a look so we also made a point of stopping there while wandering up and down Dunedin’s ultra steep streets.
As the sun began to set, we reluctantly drove out of Dunedin for the final leg of our New Zealand road trip. We reached the outskirts of Christhchurch around midnight and promptly decided that it was pointless to find a hostel as we needed to be at the airport by 4 a.m. for our 6 a.m. departure to Manila. Not far from the airport, we parked our car along the side of a dark road, reclined the seats and closed our eyes, hoping to catch a few hours of shut eye before our early flight. As is usually the case when sleeping in a car, we didn’t have much success. Between the two of us combined, we managed to get about three hours of interrupted sleep. Finally giving up, we drove ourselves to the car rental drop-off location, emptied out the rental car and packed up our bags. Checking the odometer, we discovered that during our short stay in New Zealand, we had covered nearly 5,000 kilometers. No wonder we felt like we had been going non-stop for the past three weeks! Waving good-bye to our trusty rental car, we set off on foot for the mile long walk to the airport.
Sitting in the Christchurch airport, we began to mentally prepare for the next leg of our trip. In a way, it felt like our round the world trip was just beginning. Our time in New Zealand was comfortable, safe and easy and probably not at all representative of how we will spend much of the next 11 months. We felt somewhat reluctant to leave the behind this magical country filled with amazing scenery and friendly people but took comfort knowing that warm weather and some of the world’s best scuba diving was only a plane ride away.