It is a charming place with great architecture and our Airbnb accomodations fit the bill. We stayed in what was the servants quarter for a larger house – refitted in a very artsy and comfortable apartment. It was (of course) up a hill – so we got our workout. We enjoyed doing a lot of walking around the city – following both walking tour guides that took us past many beautiful and historic buildings, including the Edwardian train station. This is supposedly the most photographed building in all of NZ (how they figure that out is questionable becuase we would guess the Sky Tower would win that prize) – but nonetheless it is pretty magnificent.
We also did a nice trek around a park not far from the city center – it was around a resevoir and quite pretty.
From Dunedin we headed to Invercargill on our way to Stewart Island. This was to be a pit stop to our trip across the rough waters. We had the advantage of knowing (at least by voice - via the ham radio) some folks who lived in nearby Bluff. Trevor and Norma were kind enough to meet us in Invercargill for lunch and then took us on a great tour of the place. We stopped at a museum that breeds the ancient NZ tuatara. This is a lizard-like reptile that remains unchanged for 220 million years. One of the largest and eldest inhabitants of this breeding zone is the patriach, Henry who is 115 years old. The museum is unfortunately closed because of the fear of earthquakes, but the tuatara can be viewed in their large glass enclosures in the back. We went through some lovely parks. The highlight though was the hardware store. The E. Hayes Hardware store is a working hardware store with just about every possible tool made by man...but it is also a museum with old motorcycles, cars, trucks, tools and engines on display amongst the items for sale. They have an ingenious, cobbled together, homemade, working internal combustion engine put together with unconventional parts. For example, a hospital urinal for exhaust; a pressure cooker for a fuel tank; a mason jar for lube oil sump and a wooden one by two for control arm...and it works. Trevor got the owner to start it for us! The star of the exhibit is the Burt Munro old Indian motorcycle – the star of the movie, "The World's Fastest Indian" starring Anthony Hopkins. The Indian motorcycle set landspeed records on the salt flats of Utah and is in the museum along with other old Indians driven by Munro and motorcycles of all types and classes, many very old.
The next day, we went to Bluff so Michael could have one last call on "Tony's Net" the ham radio net he participated in regularly. We did this at Trevor and Norma's home and it was fun to hear the voices from Trish (of Gulf Harbour Radio), Carl, Gary, John, Dave, Sergio and Christian. Good propagation made it a fun to hear everyone from Tasmania, Harvey Bay, Australia, Auckland, Bay of Islands and elsewhere. Felt like being back on Astarte!
After the net we were to catch the ferry to Stewart Island. There was a gale force wind blowing and big clouds so we expected a rough ride. Unfortunately, the weather was SO BAD, they actually cancelled the ferry – something that is rarely done. We checked on air flights to Stewart and they even cancelled them! The prediction was for it to continue to get worse for the next few days. So we reluctantly decided to cancel the trip. This was something we did with great disappointment as this was what we most wanted to do . We were booked for three days on the island, but all three days looked to be too bad.
Instead, we scrambled to find a place to stay and headed to Caitlins. That will be the next chapter.