Monday, February 14, 2011

Christchurch to Dunedin

Our first day back in Christchurch was rather disorienting, as I mentioned.  We didn't get back to the Windsor B&B until afternoon, whereupon most people quickly disappeared into their rooms to sleep until dinner.  However, I was too hungry, as was Ema, my traveling companion for the next week.  After organizing our bags for the upcoming road trip, we headed out with the vague aim of food and seeing the exhibit at the museum.  Food came first and the closest place to the museum was a little cafe on the river, adjacent to the botanical gardens.  It was attached to the place where you can rent kayaks or go "punting on the Avon", a popular activity in town.  I had been there previously, when Rachael and I stopped on our day in town heading south.  Once again, I missed the open kitchen hours, but the cafe had plenty of sandwiches and muffins to feed us.  

After food, we headed over to see the exhibit on Antarctic photographs "The Heart of the Great Alone" comparing the work of Frank Hurley and Herbert Pointing.  The art historian in me was giddy to see the juxtapositions of the two photographers, one who aimed to document and one who aimed to recreate emotion.  Having just returned from the ice, I must admit that Hurley's work was more successful in recreating the emotions of the place while Pointing's work had eerie aspects of documenting the doomed Terra Nova expedition although both had opposite intentions.  

Flowers at the Botanical Gardens

The artwork was beginning to blur and I nodded off a bit during one of the videos in the exhibit, clearly a nap was inevitable.  We managed to take a quick stroll around the botanical gardens, marveling at the colors on our way back to the room.  Luckily, we were able to wake up for dinner with Ema's advisor and my friend Biz over at the Dux de Lux.  Another repeat restaurant, but the beer and food are tasty and reasonably priced.  Eating outside during summertime was another bonus.

Driving on the left side of the road

Wednesday morning came way to quickly and I rethought the plan to get on the road and to have lunch at a brewery in Timaru.  Tracking down a rental car and a place to stay in Dunedin took up most of the morning anyway, so it was noon by the time we really got on the road.  Leftovers from the night before had served as a sort of lunch, and the people at the hotel had been nice enough to let us use the microwave in the kitchen.  Accordingly, it was sometime in the mid-afternoon before we had to stop for food.  Since leaving the ice, all Ema could talk about was McDonald's and pizza, two "delicacies" we had gone without, in her case for 3 months.  I'm a bit ashamed to admit that we did indeed stop at McDonald's, but hell, I've got to a McDonald's in practically every country I've visited.  At least in New Zealand the lids have happy messages about utilizing local food sources.  Again revived, we headed back on the road towards our first sightseeing stops of the trip.

Moeraki boulders

First stop was in Oamaru, to see the little blue penguins.  Apparently I missed the reason why the guide books tell you to stay overnight in Oamaru- the little blue penguins return from fishing in the ocean to their nests onshore at sunset in a impressive display of large numbers.  Not quite possible when you are trying to reach Dunedin before 8 pm.  The next stop was a bit more satisfying, with the Moeraki boulders.  The boulders were fascinating, like giant, round geodes scattered in the sand.  Almost like the gods had forgotten their marbles on the beach.  

Fresh food in Dunedin

Somehow we managed to not get lost on the way into Dunedin, and arrived at Central Backpackers with half an hour to spare.  I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and nicely decorated it was.  Free wifi and a very nice (fully equipped) kitchen raised my expectations for the trip.  Dinner at a Japanese restaurant with all my favorites (inari, avocado rolls, miso soup, green tea, and veggie tempura) also set the bar and resulted in a very full stomach.

Next stop, Otago Peninsula.


pecwanpete said...

Mmmmm, sushi. It must feel weird to write about NZ while in PR. You've got a crazy life right now.

Heather said...

It does! I had hoped to finish these before I left for PR, but things were a little hectic. Hoping to at least finish up NZ before I leave here so I can move on to more stories!