It was once the economic powerhouse of New Zealand. A bustling port city, close to the Central Otago gold. Just up the road refrigerated transport was being invented, furthering the cities economic importance. With the promise of greatness the most grandiose buildings were built; the city boundaries set far afield – plenty of room in which to grow!
But then the gold ran out. And the people left, bar a few stragglers; leaving behind a once bustling metropolis. And in that wake plus a hundred years of time, a cultural shift in what’s important has emerged, uncovering new seams of gold.
I grew up in Christchurch, then lived a few years in Wellington before following my heart to Dunedin. I reckon it’s long enough to have found some good treasure. As I leave to Auckland for the foreseeable future (fret not, Quick Brown Fox and Harpoon will remain being made in Dunedin) I feel it’s right to share those treasures.
The seven wonders listed here are much like the seven wonders of the modern world or the ancient world: they are desirable things that are rare and unique.
While there are many great things to list, I have been brutal with refining this. It must be seven. Here they are:
7. Sandfly Bay, (Including Lovers Leap and The Chasm)
It’s called Sandfly Bay because the sand ‘flies’ around creating big dunes. It’s 20 minutes drive from the city and a 10 minute walk to the dunes (or 2 hours if you go the wrong way). Not only are there run-down-able dunes, there are seals and penguins too. It’s a stunning place for a wander and nearby you’ll find The Chasm and Lover’s Leap. They are breathtaking rock formations along the coast.
6. Unity Park (the little spot on top of Stafford St.)
Just a wee wander up from town there’s a grassy knoll, a little car park and a surprisingly amazing view of the harbour and city. There’s a crappy statue and some grubby seats but just a really neat place you can go to completely unwind. There’s something beautiful about seeing water from a distance.
5. Friday Bakery (aka The Friday Shop)
There are remarkable goodies to be found here. But perhaps what makes it so special is that it’s only open on Fridays. One day of seven. It’s like, the most humble yet confident business you can imagine. People want their baked goods so much that they diarise Friday’s and get up way too early. They don’t regret it.
4. The Otago Farmers Market
The Otago Farmers Market has been going for ten years and its offerings and atmosphere are fantastic. It is located at the pretty-good Otago Railway Station. However the main attraction can be found by following the line of women to Tart Tin Matt. I jest (but only a little).
3. Dunedin Music
For a city of ~100,000 people the music scene is and seems to have always been remarkably good. Perhaps there’s a seam of creativity here, or perhaps the city just takes the best from Invercargill? Or perhaps it’s a city that’s affordable enough for people to spend time doing what they love. Frequent, well attended live music of great quality.
2. Karitane Peninsula
It’s a wee drive from the city, but that’s the price of serenity. The Karitane peninsula is a Maori Pa site, and you can’t help but feel a connection to something great while reading the beautifully written poems dotted along your walk.
1. The Farm
It’s the worst kept secret in town but I won’t tell you where it is. You’ll find fresh milk, cream and charming miscellaneous offerings with such a stunning view. And the smoked mozzarella is out of control good if you can get it. Jerseys really do have all the extras.
So there you have it: all seven wonders. What do you think? Accurate? Can’t believe I missed Tunnel Beach and Emerson’s beer and Jimmys pies? Make your own damn list.
And hey, thanks Dunedin.