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.
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.
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.
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.