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A Wee Bit O' Scotland  (Dunedin, New Zealand)

(Reprint from News: January 16, 2002)

January 10, 2002

 

I spent a week in Dunedin waiting for the rain to stop so I could go out and explore the area, but the rain never quit so I had to console myself by perusing through my Lonely Planet guidebook, looking at the beautiful pictures of the Dunedin area, including the Otago Peninsula.  According to my guidebook, the peninsula is a beautiful pastoral area just east of the city, about 20 miles long.

 

Speaking of rain, when I was a kid, this song was one of my favorites.  These are The Irish Rovers singing about The Unicorn.

Requires a RealPlayerIf problems, see Help.

 

After several days of waiting, I finally drove out to the peninsula, but I didn't see much of anything but clouds and driving rain.  I kept referring to the pictures in my guidebook to see what it would've looked like if it was sunny -- yeah, O.K., it was pretty pathetic. 

 

There's an albatross colony out on the Otago Peninsula, though, which was pretty interesting.  Albatrosses are seabirds that fly thousands of miles each year during their migrations, and they nest only in a few places around the world, including here in New Zealand.  Albatrosses are also HUGE -- imagine a seagull that's as big as a turkey and you'll get an idea of what they look like.  Seeing one of these humongous birds for the first time, I finally understood the term, "Like an albatross around my neck." And, for some odd reason, I started thinking of cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

 

I drove into town several times during my week in Dunedin and strolled along George Street, the main thoroughfare.  Despite being soaked, Dunedin was really hopping, this being the middle of the six-week summer holiday.  I headed down to the train station one afternoon to take the 4-hour scenic train ride through the Taieri Gorge, something like the Durango-Silverton train ride in Colorado, but the train was just about full and I didn't think I'll have a very good time sitting cramped on a steamy train in an aisle seat, so I decided instead to get some fish and chips from a takeout, go back to my motel room, and turn on the T.V. and watch the New Zealand Black Caps cricket match that afternoon against Australia.  First, however, I wanted to visit Baldwin Street.

 

Other than the rain and the albatrosses, the thing I'll probably remember most about Dunedin is Baldwin Street, which is reputedly the steepest street in the world.  Unfortunately, though, my photos on this page don't do it justice.  When I first saw Baldwin Street, my jaw dropped.  I didn't have the nerve to try to drive my Corolla up the street because I wasn't sure if it would make it -- or if the brakes would work well enough on the way down -- so I hiked to the top, during which I had to stop twice to catch my breath.  Yep, I imagine the folks who deliver the newspapers and mail here get big tips.

 

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Above left:  This is what Dunedin looked like during the week that I was there.  The rain gave me a chance, though, to update my website and return e-mails.

Above center:  The Railway Station, still in use, is probably the most beautiful building in Dunedin.

Above right:  This is inside the Railway Station.  I was going to take a scenic all-day rail trip from here, but the train was packed.

 

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Above left:  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Baldwin Street in Dunedin with a 35% slope is the steepest street in the world.  

Above center:  Don't people here know how to build houses?

Above right:  Just foolin'.  Actually, this is what the houses on Baldwin Street look like.  Cars have to get a running start before driving up the street.

 

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Above left:  George Street, the main thoroughfare in Dunedin.

Above right:  Folks told me that this creek at Otago University is normally just a trickle.

 

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