Leon at LCA2006

19 January 2006

Oamaru to Dunedin: where'd the flat bits go?

After Oamaru, New Zealand looks pretty much like Australia — minus all of the flat bits.

The big lumps in the ground that Australian farmers wouldn't even think about clearing have sheep clinging to the sides, and pine plantations on top. The roads are very windy, very steep, and generally very far above the valley floors. I was not entirely comfortable with whizzing along through this at a hundred clicks in a very tall coach, and yet somehow the kiwis found room for a railway as well.

I was impressed to see a\little hilltop paddock barely big enough to turn a tractor and plough around in (I seriously doubt that it covered a full acre), and the farmer had gone to the trouble of making about a 10m causeway across to it from the main farm to get the machinery there and back.

Diesel over here is about NZD$1 a litre as opposed to ULP at around NZD$1.40, a much closer representation of production costs than in Australia so a lot of family cars, and probably the majority of the vans and light trucks here are diesels.

I had a look at the Last Stop backpackers, a pleasant and well-behaved hosteliery built on an impressively steep bit of road called View Street, went out to confer with Mr Beattie, and by the time I got back the last five beds had been sold to three different callers, so I trotted around to the On Top backpackers in Filluel Street. This well-equipped and apparently brand new hostel is one short arcade away from The Octagon, the heart of Dunedin. Walk out of the front door, across the road and follow your nose down the hill for two short blocks to find Countdown, a local equivalent to Woolworths — except that they’re open 24x7. Excellent!

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