I woke this morning ready for a good day. After the past 2.5 days of dealing with the wheel issue I was excited to have a day free from car worries. I had another good chat with my host Morgan while making breakfast and said goodbye to Josh (the black lab) and the foster puppy who they are thinking of calling Pixel (I like that)…..
|Josh in “his” chair|
The Otago Peninsula (Google, Images) has quite a few things to do but the most popular are the Royal Albatross Center at Harrington Point (Web, Images) and Larnach Castle (Web, Images). I drove up to the castle but only had time for one of the other so I chose the Albatross Center at Harrington Point.
The Center was very interesting with a lot of information about the local wildlife (not just Albatross). I will admit that I do not know a great deal about the Albatross so I was very interested as I took the time to read most of the information in the Center. A couple of items in particular stood out to me…..one was the enormous volume of plastic rubbish floating in our oceans (I saw this again at the Sydney aquarium) and the amount eaten by wildlife and the other was the extreme distances that Albatross’ fly (this I knew)…..up to 1000 km (621 miles) a day!
|This is very sad|
|This was alarming|
When I walked down to the observation point (a cliff into the ocean) I was not disappointed as there were several Albatross’ flying around (they are huge birds) and a few seals in the water below…..
I spent a couple of hours at the Center and walking around the point and ate lunch looking out over the ocean. It was a nice afternoon…..
My plan at this point was to tour around Dunedin for a little while and then take my time driving up the coast to my Airbnb reservation for the evening in Timaru, about 2 hours north of Dunedin…..yeah, that was my plan.
It’s about a 40 minute drive from the Albatross Center to Dunedin CBD along a narrow, twisty road that follows the bay. I was enjoying the drive when, about 10 minutes from Dunedin, my left tire clipped something sticking out from the side of the road and within 10 seconds I heard the “clump, clump, clump” of a flat tire. I was like, “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!!”. I thought, “This can’t be happening”. But I pulled off on a side street and sure enough I had a small gash in the side of the tire. UGH!!!!! I immediately knew I was in trouble because, although I was just minutes outside a rather sizable NZ town, it was 4 PM on a Saturday afternoon and I knew everything would be closed until Monday. DOUBLE UGH!!!!!!
So I quickly changed to the trusty space saver (yeah, the one with almost 200 miles on it already) and began checking for “tyre” (recall this is what they call tires in NZ) stores on Google. I found about 15 listing and began calling them in order hoping that maybe one of them would be open until 5 today. The first 7 were no answer or answering machine telling me they were closed until Monday. I finally got a live person who was the “on call” guy for a shop but he clearly did not want to sale me a tyre. So he suggested another place I could call which I did but they only serviced fleet vehicles. So I called the guy back and he suggested another place to call (I’m not sure why this guy was “on call” for his store). So I called the other guy and he answered immediately and said, “Yeah, we can definitely help you”….thank you Lord!!!! He told me is on-call guy would call me within 5 minutes, which he did, and it just happened that he was already on his way to the store for another customer so I made arrangements to meet him there.
When I arrived he was opening the garage door and motioned for me to drive inside. I got out, told him how very happy I was to see him and shook his hand. His name was Nathan and we immediately hit it off. It took him about 30 minutes to change my tire and plug the other guys tire (he was lucky) and of course, we had a great conversation while this was happening. I told him about my travels and where I was headed and he told me about the area and said, “There is a big Highlanders game this evening….you should go”.
The Highlanders are a Super Rugby team in Dunedin (Web, Google). They got their name from the Scottish immigrants that helped found the Otago, North Otago, and Southland regions in the 1840s and 1850s and they are the defending Super Rugby champions. Nathan and the other customer talked about the team, their opponent (South African Lions) and their new indoor stadium.
I told him I thought that would be fun but I had another 2 hours of driving and this incident had set me behind, so maybe next time. I paid my bill, we finished out conversation and said goodbye and once again I headed out into the world with a “sound” automobile. So if you’re ever in Dunedin and find yourself with a tyre issue on a Saturday afternoon call the good folks at Treads Tyre Service.
At this point I was running late so instead of “touring” around Dunedin as previously planned I drove around quickly and checked out a few sites. I passed by the new stadium (I was curious after the previous conversation) and it looked really nice. There were people preparing for the evenings game and some fans had begun to show up. I was really wishing I could attend the game as I had never seen a live professional Rugby match but I knew I still had a long drive so I got on the road heading north out of town. But as I drove I kept thinking more and more about the game so about 10 minutes out of town I pulled over and (just out of curiosity) googled tickets to see how expensive they were. I found they were surprisingly cheap (by US professional game standards) and my decision became even tougher.
After a few minutes of deliberation I decided, “what the heck” and turned around and headed back into town. I drove to the stadium, purchased a great mid-field ticket and headed to my seat.
Just before the game began 5 guys came up and sat on both sides of me. I later learned they were friends who had season tickets for many years and one of their other friends used to have my seat but gave it up 2 years ago. Now they have a different (usually foreign with no knowledge of rugby) in this seat at each game. They were great guys and took the time to explain things throughout the game and had several good laughs at me. 🙂
Dunedin is a college town with one of the biggest “unis” (AU and NZ call universities “unis”) in NZ. The uni is just up the street from the stadium so they normally get a pretty large college crowd at the games and this one was no exception. They have an area behind one goal that the guy sitting next to me referred to as the “zoo” where the students sit. I was so much fun to watch and listen to them all night as they did their cheers and sung songs during the breaks in action on the field (just as they would at a college game in the US). One song they did that I never expected to hear (I tried to get a video but I was too late) was Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker or Old Crow Medicine Show. They sang ever word to the chorus as loud as they could….it was so much fun!!!! (“rock me baby like a south bound train…..”). 🙂
|Both fun and informative 🙂|
Needless to say I had a great time at the game and really enjoyed meeting and talking with the guys sitting next to me. I was very glad I met Nathan and very glad I made the decision to stay in Dunedin for the game. It was a fun night!
After the game I drove the remaining 2 hours to Tamiru and got to my room around 12:30. The place I was staying was kind of like a hostel/hotel so I did not have to go into anyone’s home late at night and I had contacted my host before I went to the game just to make sure it would not be an issue.
So it began as a good day, got a little rough in the middle, but ended strong. Thank you again Liam and Nathan!!!
|Where Am I|