I think it was Mart Twain who said the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. He could have been talking about Dunedin! Except, not today, nor yesterday when the temperature reached 30C on TWO consecutive days (86F, for you in America). But don’t worry; it’s forecasted to be raining and 12C (54F) tomorrow. If you don’t like the weather…just wait a minute.
It has been way too long since my last post, so I will try to distill the highlights of an entire month into a single post. To summarize: I worked at the hospital….. a lot.
After returning to Dunedin from my quarantine in Christchurch, there was little time for Christmas decorations. Fortunately, not that many (read, almost no one) people put up Christmas lights. I guess when the sun sets at 9:40pm, and rises at 5:30am, no one stays up that late to see the lights anyway. It’s a different experience having Christmas in summer! I did my best, anyway, to display some Christmas spirit to the passing ships in the Harbor.
It was quite cold and rainy around Christmas and the New Year…there were several days of very heavy and steady rain, which caused some pretty massive flooding in parts of the Southland (where I am). But, if you wait a day (or two), the weather changes and you can go out and explore some more.
On one of my first days off happened to coincide with a visible sun overhead, and so I headed North along the coast to one of my favorite little towns (Moeraki Village), where I knew I would be able to eat a delicious crayfish (lobster) lunch in the open air restaurant, The Fishwife. My journey also included a stop at Shag Point, where the New Zealand fur seals rest in-between outings to the sea for their own lunches.
One of the great things about Dunedin is the sheer expanse of the city, and the multitude of great hikes inside the city limits. The Pineapple Track is one of those, but it is just one of literally dozens of absolutely magnificent hikes.
Ross Creek is another wonderful hike, but quite unlike the Pineapple track with its wide open panoramas of the city and ocean, here you hike through lush forests and encounter creeks and streams and you would never know you’re just minutes away from the city center.
On one of the first weekend days in January (with no rain) I ventured out to see if there might be some river, someone, that wasn’t blown out (in fishing terms, a river that’s blown out is swollen, often stained, and pretty much not fishable). I found no such rivers, but I did attempt to drive through a mountain pass called Dansey Pass. Along this gravel road is the Dansey Pass Hotel….literally one of the coolest places I’ve ever stumbled upon. Suddenly, I became a Thirsty Farmer. I found, though, that only 1km down the road, there was a blockage from the recent storm, and there would be no Dansey Pass on this day.
Last Sunday, with several days of good weather under our collective belts, I managed to find a river which, well, should have had fish in it. It may well have, but I was unable to coax them out of water. But it was a warm afternoon, and I was standing in a river in New Zealand, and it didn’t really matter. Fish or no fish, it felt good. In one of the most surreal moments I’ve had so far, as I was putting on my waders, my phone rang (I had not expected to have any cell coverage out there), and it was my son, Matt. So there I was, having a great conversation with Matt, he in California and me standing in the middle of a river in New Zealand, with a big chunk of the Pacific Ocean between us. It was magical….and Mind blowing!
I hope to be able to post more often, but as a wise man once told me (it was my son Ryan), don’t write checks with your mouth that your body can’t cash.