Dunedin Days

Port Chalmers, a view from our mooring

We had a very nice sail up from Stewart Island to Dunedin, one of New Zealand’s earliest population centers. It was an overnight, chilly slog with the wind at our back. We had moderate seas that built just enough to remind us where we were in the world.  At the end of it, we gratefully turned into the long channel that leads up the river to Dunedin.  

Slightly ironic – we had lots of tankers and container ships coming in and out to the very active industrial port of Port Chalmers, but somehow is wasn’t a negative thing, more interesting to watch them making their way.

We are a little heavy to safely tug on the old docks at the Otago Yacht Club which is close to downtown, but Barry worked hard to find us space in Port Chalmers, a little distance downriver.  At the same time Allan, a local fisherman, and friend of a friend, was pulling strings to get us on the Fisherman’s dock.  Allan was successful and we sidled up next to the fleet of fishing boats.  After getting water and reassessing we decided Banyan was just not salty enough to side tie to some poles in a tidal area with nothing but the occasional tire and our little fenders. We chickened out and decided to take the mooring.  

Seldom have we felt more welcomed into a new place. Right away we were joined on board for a visit by Jan Jopson and her dog Taz. Jan used to babysit me back in the day and has kept up with our doings.  It was the beginning of what became a very social time for us—especially in contrast to our time through Fiordland and Stewart Island!

Jan and Neville, her husband, immediately took us under their wing. From dinners at their home, nights out experiencing Dunedin’s folk scene, to mountain biking in Naseby, we’ve done a ton of fun things with them and their son Michael. We will never be able to thank them enough for their gifts of time, resources, and friendship. We felt very loved and enjoyed every minute. 

Jan and Neville on a hike looking down over Dunedin
Neville showing Isa the mysteries of the cello (she is playing Neville’s electric cello)
Taz, Jan and Neville’s dog, loved coming onto the boat.
slack lining in Naseby
Isa tackling the stream – Jan and Neville sorted out a bunch of great bikes and we all had a great time mountain biking.
Adelaide and Neville taking on the ‘sand pit’ with Isa looking on. The land around Naseby was altered drastically due to ‘sluicing’ during the gold rush in the late 1800’s. It makes for a great mountain biking playground!
We all cycled a little piece of the Rail Trail, an amazing cycling trail system throughout the region.

In addition to long-time family friends, Dunedin harbored some new friends as well. After doing masses of laundry upon arrival, we got ready for the Suzuki music workshop that both girls attended.  We met up again with many families we had gotten to know in Timaru during the summer camp.  We shared dinners with these friends and lots of great conversation.  

We also spent some really enjoyable evenings with a young family currently dreaming and planning for their own sailing adventure. We’d met them in a bay on Stewart Island and enjoyed spending more time with them and hearing about their plans and dreams—reminding us of ourselves a few years ago. 

We couldn’t leave the Dunedin area without traveling to New Zealand’s high desert, and most notable wine country, Central Otago. Cameron made some inquiries and was aided by a few Kiwi winemaker friends to set up some appointments. The area looks so much like eastern Washington and Oregon that it was almost disorienting! Unsurprisingly, the wines were delicious and the people lovely. 

Queenstown, New Zealand’s playground. This was the first place we noticed tourists out in any force. We realized just how blessed we’ve been to be able to explore New Zealand during COVID…. silver linings!
A hike above Arrowtown, NZ – true to form, I forgot to take any photos of vineyards.

This morning we turned on the engine at 5 am to depart Dunedin with a plan to head to Oamaru, a small but character-filled town along the east coast, famed for its steam punkiness and quaint downtown. We are motor sailing along and watching the sun come up, enjoying a crisp clear fall day on the water.

The Oamaru welcoming committee. Dagmar, in the stern of the boat, came to say hello. We met her and her family through the Suzuki workshops and have been playing with them ever since.
We attended our first Rugby game in Dunedin – Dunedin Highlander’s vs. Auckland Blues. Our team (The Highlanders), took the win!


  1. Marianne McGriff says:

    Hi, Banyan Crew
    OK…can you stay long enough in New Zealand for me to join you? Seriously, each post makes me more sure that I want to visit this
    gorgeous country. You ALL are simply the BEST and what a privilege and joy to share this adventure with you.
    Sending much love and Blessings,
    PS We are leaving soon for France/Ireland and will email you before we leave!!!!!!

  2. Caitlin says:

    So much fun thinking of you all doing so much good stuff! We’re wrapping up this strangest of school years and heading to AK soon. How many degrees apart will we be?!
    Love to you all, Caitlin (& the Debonarians)

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Hi Caitlin, What an amazing year it has been for you all… for so many! We’ve felt the effects, but only in our inability (or unwillingness) to leave New Zealand as we wouldn’t be able to return due to the border closure. Yes, I think we will be fairly far apart!! But close in spirit. Much love to your crew and we look forward to hearing of your Alaska Adventures. Hugs

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