Dunedin, New Zealand – February 17, 2016
It was nearing 15:00 when we finally made our motel in Dunedin. Not long after checking in, Leslie, Hillary, and I decided to go to St. Clair Beach. A taxi deposited us there quickly. It was not very far from our motel.
The taxi dropped us near The Hydro building. The ground floor of the building houses The Esplanade restaurant. It is an Italian restaurant. We decided that was the place for dinner later.
The beach was a vast, sandy expanse. The beach very gradually went into the ocean. It was effortless to walk on the beach. We saw a group of surfing students. They lined up, listening to instruction, and then were sent running into the surf.
At the same time, some lifeguards were drilling with their zodiac boat. They transitioned from the beach to surf several times. It appeared to me that if needed, the lifeguards would be to the person in trouble very quickly.
In addition to the people, several canines were enjoying the surf. The waves were not very large since the beaches pitch to the ocean was so gradual.
After getting our feet wet and gathering a few seashells, we hailed a taxi for our return trip to the motel.
Back at the motel, we picked up Lorraine and headed back to the beach. Upon arrival, we took a few photographs at the oceanside. Then we went into The Esplanade. It was one of the best Italian restaurants at which I have ever eaten. All four of us thoroughly enjoyed our meals.
After dinner, it was back to the motel to rest and prepare to explore Dunedin the next day.
We began the day with breakfast at a nursery and garden store of all things. Nichol’s Garden Centre was just a couple of blocks from our motel. At the rear of the store was a fantastic café. I had eggs Benedict. That dish is one of the oddities I have found in New Zealand; it is available in every restaurant at which we have had breakfast. I do not recall eggs Benedict offered so frequently in restaurants in the United States.
About a month before traveling to the south island, I read an article in the local newspaper about the steepest street in the world, Baldwin Street in Dunedin. I made a mental note that I wanted to see that street while we were in Dunedin. After we finished breakfast, we went to Baldwin Street.
When we arrived at Baldwin Street, we found it humorous that there were so many people taking photographs of a street, me included. The steepest top section is only about 528 feet long, one-tenth of a mile. In that short distance, the road gains 155 feet in elevation. That means for every three feet traveled; there is a gain of one foot in altitude. That equates to a 35% incline!
After admiring the anomaly that is Baldwin Street and stopping at the Baldwin Street café, we got back into our SUV. We made for our next stop, the Otago Museum. Before entering the museum, I did not realize Sir Edmund Hillary is a native son of New Zealand. He was born in Auckland. The museum has several items from Hillary’s ascent of Mt. Everest on display.
Entry to the museum is free. There are three levels of exhibits including; Southern Land, Southern People; Pacific Cultures; Nature; People of the World; Maritime; and the very cool Animal Attic.
We departed the museum at lunchtime. We had parked on the street. When we walked back to the car, we saw a food trailer parked a couple of spots ahead of us. It was The Hungry Tui (the Tui is a native bird of New Zealand). One of the offerings was a pulled pork sandwich. It was excellent.
Our final destination of the day was the Olveston House. It is a historic home close to the central business district, finished in 1907. David Theomin was the owner. He was a wealthy merchant that emigrated from England to Australia and then to Dunedin. It is such a unique home because all of the items in the house are original, not period pieces bought and then placed in the home. That is thanks to Theomin’s daughter, Dorothy. When she died in 1966, she left the estate to the City of Dunedin.
The 35-room, 13,700 square feet house is on a large parcel of land on a hilltop overlooking Dunedin. The grounds are immaculate and beautifully landscaped. Photography inside the home, much to my chagrin, is not allowed. One can get an idea of the interiors of the house by visiting www.olveston.co.nz.
As one can see, the name Olveston has nothing to do with the family name of Theomin. One of the staff explained that Theomin was born in Bristol, England. Olveston was a small village just outside of Bristol. Apparently, he spent much time as a child in Olveston. He either had fond memories of Olveston or Dunedin reminded him of Olveston, maybe both. Regardless, he named his property after that English village.
From Olveston, it was back to our motel to prepare for our departure the next day to Queenstown.