I have just arrived in Dunedin, after a lengthy journey down the east coast from Christchurch. The landscape was mainly flat, but with the New Zealand snow-capped alps looming mirage-like through the haze to my right for most of the journey; the South Island’s knobbly spine. Their sudden appearance out of nothing reminded me of JRR Tolkein’s Middle Earth map, where the linear mountain ranges seem to do just that.
I have to say I was glad to leave Christchurch behind. I don’t know whether it was the weird blokey atmosphere in the hostel (lots of belching, farting, swearing and general women-focused coarseness – I know I sound prim, but it just made me feel a bit uncomfortable, especially when it extended into the dorm), or the sadness of all the quake-damage remnants, but it left me feeling a bit blue. (Random aside – one of my favourite lyrics from a song, ever: “I drain the colour from the sky and turn blue without you” – We Come 1, Faithless.)
So it was with a literal deep breath of relief that I stepped off the bus into Dunedin. The air feels really fresh here – possibly the proximity of the sea combined with the fact that the temperature has dropped a few degrees, so there is a slight nip at my bare (still pale, alas) legs. Dunedin is gaelic for Edinburgh, and the link between the two cities is obvious. I am not kidding, but as I type this in the library I can hear bagpipes being played in the city centre below. I have hit the jackpot in that this week is the Dunedin Fringe Festival (another nod to Scotland’s fair city), so I’m hoping to catch some quirky acts on my wanderings.
I have had a realisation that I have been drawn to coastal areas on my travels. The only non-coastal places I’ve been to are the Waitomo Caves (and that was a very special one-off) and Christchurch, which I couldn’t wait to leave. Seeing the untouched (by me) mountains in the distance crystallised this thought for me. I think I find the sea a very soothing, relaxing, thought-provoking and, conversely, exciting presence. Ironic, seeing as I grew up in pretty much the most land-locked part of the UK. I love being in the mountains too, but right now I think I’m craving wave-therapy.
Anyway, nothing much to report today as I have only just arrived, but I wanted to use the free wi-fi before the library shuts (Becky ‘el-cheapo’ May). But I’ve booked onto a wildlife watching tour tomorrow on the nearby Otago Peninsula (my reason for coming here), so hopefully tales of that will be coming your way very soon, and possibly pictures of sea lions, albatross and penguins if I’m lucky.
I’ll leave you with an insight into my fern-addled mind – I’m seeing them everywhere!