A hop, skip, ferry trip and long walk away. Photo by Real
The post-exam, pre-leaving period provided an opportunity
to compile and complete a last-minute list of Dunedin
activities; the plan was to while away the time making the most
of improving weather and study-free days.
The list began with a bang - a trip to Stewart Island
(henceforth nicknamed Stewie). Technically a non-Dunedin
destination, but something which we felt should be done
during our time at Otago, nonetheless.
At $140 for return travel on the ferry, it's not difficult to
understand why this underrated isle of paradise isn't a
popular student holiday destination.
However, within the first 10 minutes of the
(almost-cancelled-due-to-the-weather) journey, I realised the
hefty ticket price was far from the worst aspect of the
Foveaux crossing. I also understood why my mother almost had
a conniption when she thought we were private boating across
Let's just say I arrived prepared to fall in love, for I
feared I'd never again be able to drag myself on to a boat
and back to the mainland.
Upon arrival, with faces as green as the scenery, we trooped
through the rain towards the backpackers.
Unpacked, napped. I dreamt of the holiday I had desired; sun
and books on sandy beaches.
Fortunately, the take-two impression of Stewart Island was
far superior. The sun didn't come out for a day or two, but
that didn't stop us from walking. Walking, walking, walking.
What better way to see the island?
What better way to see soil?
To see stones, steps, clay, bark, leaves, dirt, dirt, and
On the occasions when I looked up without tripping over my
own feet, the views were worth a thousand stubbed toes ...
Clear green water lapped and licked the rocky coast like the
tongue of some giant magic sea dragon. One could easily image
its tail flicking up a storm further from the coast.
We saw birds of almost every native kind - from melodious
tuis and bellbirds to cheeky robins, tomtits and wekas, and
stunning woodpigeons and parakeets. Their constant and noisy
presence provided a glimpse of what this country used to be.
And the people?
Well ... what people?
It's fair to say they were few and far between, but the
locals were of the friendliest type you'll ever meet.
The restaurant on the hill provided the best service and even
a ride home in the rain, the policeman gave us a tour of the
township, and everyone we met along the way was ready with a
smile and a helpful word.
One member of our party calculated a total of 17 walking
hours (more hours than were spent sleeping, that's for sure).
My book was barely read, but that didn't matter because the
list received one big tick next to "Stewart Island".
The Chinese Garden.
Obviously, this required a trip back to the mainland; a
slightly less traumatic journey - all part of the adventure,
certainly - but how much are flights?
Worth considering, without doubt.
- Katie Kenny has just completed English studies
at the University of Otago.