Adjusting to life, with no mask!

It was an unusual sensation, my firsts breaths of fresh air without wearing a mask. Once I cleared the last health check in Auckland (after 2 negative COVID swabs, the first on my third day of quarantine, and the second on the 12th day), I was then ‘processed’ by immigration (making sure my passport and visa were in order), checked out of the hotel (no bill to me, though there are rumors of travels being charged in the future), and then I summoned an Uber to take me to the Auckland airport. Domestic terminal, please, I said with relief.

The flight from Auckland to Dunedin was just under two hours (it’s about 1000km, or if you prefer, about 660 miles by air), and it was a stunning and bright sunny day as the plane descended into the verdant valley and landed at the Dunedin Airport. The airport is about 20 minutes outside of the South Island’s second most populous city, though it’s interesting to note Dunedin is one of the largest (geographic size) cities in the world, with a territorial size of 1280 square miles (3314 sq km).

As in the UK, you drive on the left hand side of the road here. Fortunately, the car I rented had a reminder….

KEEP LEFT, has been my mantra all week!

One week in, and I’ve had no egregious driving errors… We don’t count the number of times I’ve turned on the windshield wipers, meaning to signal. Keep your fingers crossed (and perhaps stay off the Dunedin roads for another week or so…).

The Iconic Train Station in Dunedin

The First Church of Otago: stunning architecture!

It’s the middle of Winter here, but it hasn’t stopped the sun from shinning. The clear days bring brisk temperatures, usually hovering around 3-4C at night and 8-10C during the day. The wind, nearly always present, makes it feel colder. It’s great walking weather, though, so on Saturday I walked around the town..visiting some old haunts like the Train Station, the First Church..and the Farmer’s Market of Otago. So fun! When I left the Northern Hemisphere, I was enjoying the bounty of California summer fruits…so I’ve had to reset my taste buds for the fruit available here…which are local apples (I counted at least 10 different varieties) and pears (another half dozen varieties).

Bags and Bags of Fruit and Vegetables! (and frozen Boysenberries)
Even the organic Farmers get into it. Note the warm attire..

I have a relatively common name…but here…it seems I’m everywhere!

If this Doctor thing doesn’t work out….

I’ve spent a couple of days touring the Otago peninsula, which is just a magnificent, wild, and scenic location (and just a short drive from the hospital).

Sandly Beach (so named for the sand that flies in the wind, not an insect)
The Otago Peninsula, Otago Harbor, and the locale of MacAndrew Bay.
Making some new friends…always 10 meters away! The Mom (on the right) was very protective and watched me very closely.
Hooper Inlet, near Allan’s Beach, on the Otago Peninsula. About 15 seals were frolicking around in this calm little estuary.

So that’s a little taste of the scenery here…as I look at these photos some of them almost seem tropical. But, the winds are almost always howling (today at Allan’s Beach the wind was a constant 25 mph) and the temperature may have reached into double digits (C) only the late afternoon. It’s all about layers (though, I did wear shorts….you can take the boy out of California, but…).

Next week, hopefully a little more about the the job, people and culture. If I can keep my camera off, that is.

Kia Ora,


Published by dave clarke

I am different things to different people. Husband, father, doctor, teacher, friend, or if you're a fish, a fly fisherman. But really, I'm just a guy trying to learn about life, and if I'm lucky, maybe teach a little bit along the way. If I were a golfer (I'm not) I would be on the back nine of my life, or if I were a book, there would be more pages turned than not. Any yet, I'm far from finished creating chapters of my life. The goal of Next Chapters is inspiration, and I'm hopeful the traffic goes in both directions.

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