All those places that are special to me are designated so for one reason: they are the spaces in which I acted out the stories of my life. The town I grew up in is riddled with such stories - layers of meaning that only I can see.
The park where my Mum and I walk the dogs is nothing special to the eyes, and yet when I walk there I am reminded of that one boiling hot Christmas we spent playing in the kiddy pools, and the time I had to fish Jess out of the water after she escaped home, ran behind my bike all the way to town, then jumped into the pond to chase the ducks. The Esplanade is a gorgeous paved walk by the sea; but to me it is that place where I would watch my brother attempt to surf, or sit in the car and throw chips out the window to the seagulls before shutting it tight and laughing over the ensuing squawking mess. The Mornington Lookout is that place where we would go to drink beer, to watch fireworks, to have important conversations.
One day I will undertake a new project - to learn of all those places that are designated 'special' by others. For now, I will offer you my own...
The Botanic Gardens
The Taieri Gorge Railway
The Train Station
Otago University Campus
Tannock Glen Gardens
hiking Lover's Leap
strolling The Esplanade by the sea
walking John Wilson Drive at sunset
THE BOTANIC GARDENS
victorian . splendor . and strolls
MY FAVOURITE REFUGE:
I come here to picnic on cheese and crackers and wine, I come here to have deep conversations with friends, I come here to be alone, to feed the ducks with the free oats given out at the information centre. I come here to smell each and every rose in the rose garden, to explore the hidden dells, to talk with the cockatoos and parrots at the aviary, to warm up in the greenhouse and to watch the ducklings in spring.
When I was younger, I would try to fish out the coins from the small fish pond, but my arms would never reach.
When I was older, I came here after my last University exam. I ran along the green banks of the Rhododendron Dell, singing the Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music.
THE TRAIN STATION
busy . tourist . snapshot
OTAGO UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
gothic . grey . stone
COME TO SEE THE MAGNOLIAS
Every Spring I will detour through the Geography department, hoping against hope that today will be the day the magnolias are in bloom.
Their petals are huge and soft, easily marred but so spongy and full of life. This is when the trees are still somewhat bare, when the Gothic charm of the courtyard is at its Scottish best.
Down by the riverside, near the Gender Studies block, there is a path leading to a place between two hedges where a solitary seat can hide you from the world. You can hear the water below.
TANNOCK GLEN GARDENS
rhododendron . dell of . heaven
NOTES TAKEN WHILE WALKING
fragrant smells: pine, honeydew, soft vanilla flowers
Bellebirds and Tuis singing
soft twittering, a dog barking, the crunch of gravel
sitting on a sun warmed bench
lichen peace watching waving leaves
The Dinosaur Park
The Jaffa Race
- abandoned -
The Glow Worms
- Leith Valley -
Queens Gardens on ANZAC day.
South Dunedin in general
- Rialto - priemiere showings and geeks in costumes
- Metro - arthouse films and hot chocolate
Mornington Lookout on Guy Fawkes
- November 5 -
Graduation Parades along George St.
THE DINOSAUR PARK
quirky . seaside . playground
I remember a time when the whale was still working
and water would spout from his back.
Now, as an adult, I still love this park. The slides and swings are great,
the nearby dairies sell fish and chips and fifty-cent lolly mixtures,
and the tunnels are still much too small for my claustrophobia.
THE JAFFA RACE
world's steepest street . + . balls of chocolate
tumbled . romantic . ruins
These are the dreams of 18th century poets:
- Dunedin North Cemetery
- Southern Cemetery
Sometimes I like to walk as far as I can bear into the maze of the cemetery. As I lose sight of the main paths, things become ever more crooked. Other times I like to sit there in peace. Once, when I was picnicking with my sister in Southern Cemetery, we heard female voices coming now nearer and nearer. After ten minutes or so, we remarked to one another that the source of the voices never appeared.
stone shell . on a . cliff over waters
- for student priced, locally grown, vegetarian Taiwanese food.
- for organic, homemade, allergy friendly soups, wraps and cakes. Love the self-serve, informal style.
The Good Earth Cafe
- for University professor types who want a breakfast of epic ingredients.
Vogel St. Kitchen
- for street art and sandwiches.
The Perc Cafe
- for coffee, pinwheels, large slices of cake, and other sweet things.
- for the best beers, the best mussels, the best impromptu live Irish music, the best conversations.
- for Scottish food and knowledgeable whiskey drinking staff.
Dog with Two Tails
- for the weirdest, most hipster vibes in town.
- for jazz nights, cocktails, Spanish wines, and its hidden location.
- for the courtyard, the conversation and the wide ever-changing selection of craft beers.
- only for St. Pattie's day.
- for any special occasion, for the lamb, for the spiced cake desserts
Etrusco at the Savoy
- my grandparents would take us here once or twice a month, to gorge ourselves on Italian pastas, and wine, and of course the chocolate cake. Noisy, always busy, effervescent.
- for some of the best, and creamiest Indian food in the city.
The Friendly Khmer Noodle House
- for extremely cheap stir fries, huge portions, and a student-friendly atmosphere of plastic seats and cheap napkins.
Otago Farmer's Market
- for those days when you want to spend a hundred dollars and come home with a bag of broccoli and a very full tummy. For pies, free-range pork, smoothies, French crepes, turkish treats, and every kind of locally grown produce.
The Friday Shop
- for authentic French pastries, only on Fridays though.
The Rob Roy Dairy
- for the biggest ice creams in town!
The Food Carts
- for churros, tacos, burritos, and all manner of yummy things. Every second day or so, one will show up outside the Otago Museum.
traditional food . new brews . merry cheer
THE FRIDAY SHOP
flaky . authentic . pastry
THE GOOD EARTH CAFE
organic . english . breakfast
ZOE'S MINI FISH & CHIPS GUIDE
The Flying Squid makes the best shoestring and kumara chips in town.
NORTHEAST VALLEY TAKEAWAYS
Here you will find the most authentic NZ fish & chips experience:
Family run; fair pricing; a huge selection of random Chinese dishes that make you wonder if anyone ever orders them; thick cut crispy chips with the perfect amount of salt, not too soggy; wonderfully flaky whole pieces of fish covered in a crisp batter; pineapple rings, jam donuts, Wattie's tomato sauce; and all those random arcade games in the corner.