Welcome to the Southland, New Zealand. Being in the Southland is similar to being on the West Coast. Blink while driving by the one street towns and you just might miss the towns entirely. I love it down here.
The weather outside Dunedin was warm. Hot even. If I had to guess, it was 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Jordan and I explored the town a little. On a Sunday, you can park for free without time limit. Some of the shops are closed, but the bars and restaurants are open. Jim (Jordan’s van) got a prime parking spot at the Octagon in the center of town. Normally these spots have an hour time limit. First things first. We head to the i-site for great local advice on what to do or see, take a leak and take advantage of the free WiFi while we can.
Jordan and I chose to walk down Rattray St. to look at the murals (something I didn’t get a chance to do in Melbourne.) We found a great op-shop and spent an hour or so browsing the books they had on sale for 50 cents. Jordan ended up buying Ian Brodie’s Lord of the Rings: Location Guidebook. If you look on the DOC’s website, they guess their Lord of the Ring’s filming locations based off this book. If you’re coming to New Zealand and loved these movies, I recommend getting this book! It’s fun and light so it won’t take up to much space or weight in your bag.
There are plenty of restaurants and bars to eat at or grab a jug. We choose to go to a pool hall that had university students in it. If you go to Dunedin on the weekend, see if the school’s improv team is putting on a performance at the town center theater. Unfortunately for us, we were a week early for the show.
From Dunners we headed to Oceanview Recreation Reserve for the night. This was a free camping parking lot with 5 spaces for non-contained campers. The spaces have about 2-3 feet between each car. There were also 5 spots for contained campers across the parking lot. The rest of the lot was for day use. That being said, I counted 4 non-contained campers parked in those spots. Being the end of off season, they were fine for the night. We arrived around 4pm and were lucky enough to get the last spot between the signs. For the rest of the night we watched other campers decide to keep going or take the risk of not parking in the designated area.
There were 2 bathrooms, a dump site for the contained campers and a nice sink behind the bathrooms to wash dishes and water you can drink. There is even wi-fi access if you had a certain network, or 15 free minutes if you don’t. This spot was right next to the road, so instead of the waves, we heard cars pass at night.
Just in the other side of the flacks was the ocean with gorgeous views of the small green island. It is surreal, just a most places in the Southland. I enjoyed watching the sunset on the beach, while a father taught his two kids to surf in the small waves. He even got a chance to catch a few of his own while his kids played in the waves.