What to do in Dunedin? Drive South and explore the Otago Peninsula

Our day began with some warm showers, seriously warm showers after the night before. From there, with a bit of warmth in our bones, we began the scenic country drive from the small mountain based town, Omarama, to the coastal city of Dunedin.

The drive took us through windy roads, where at times we were the only ones around for quite some time. This was of course our choice, skipping the busy highways and opting to take our time in the countryside. And after all, we got to see so many sheep because of it!!! Seriously, everyone knows you will see sheep in New Zealand, but go a back road in the countryside and you’ll see more sheep then grass.

As we drove through the sheepy fields, the sky began to cloud up and it just went from a fresh day to a cold day. When we arrived into Dunedin, driving down the mountain into the city we could see the clouds following us, decending over the city and rolling in like a storm. That’s what it looked like anyway, it never did rain more than a sprinkle in the end.

In town we parked the car and looked around, checking out the old railways station, the few cathedrals and the local Countdown for some groceries #WeSawDunedin.

From the center we drove out towards the peninsula in the direction of Portabello, where we would camp for a night. The entire drove along the peninsula was right next to the water. Literally the left hand lane was less than 5 feet from the water and it was a windy road. We were happy to drive slowly, of course also enjoying the amazing scenery this close road to water provided, but knew we would not be happy if we attempted driving here at night or that little bit faster.

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About half way on the peninsula we drove up to the only castle in all of New Zealand. They boasted that it was stunning and also had stunning views of the Habour. Well as we pulled up to the gate we realised that no matter what, to even glimpse the castle we had to pay $40 each and we were not that excited about seeing a castle. So we U-turned our way our of there and drove back down the mountain. Along the way we stopped for me to capture some sheep pictures (got to have them) and some cow pictures (they looked so cute), afterall they were situated on a mountain side overlooking a stunning bay whilst the sun set and a ‘storm’ rolled in, it was a magical site.

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At the base of the mountain, we drove the rest of the way to our caravan park, where we checked in for the night and joined everyone other European in the kitchen to make dinner. We stayed in there for quite some time because it was again another cold night. We had assistance from our bottle of Sambuca though.

The next morning we woke early and had a full itinerary planned for the day.

First up after breakfast was a drive around the other side of the peninsula, where more sheep photos were taken #sorrynotsorry. From there we stopped at Sandfly Beach where we embarked on our first hike of the day. It was supposed to only be an hour-two hour walk and it started out absolutely freezing, mostly due to the insane wind as you can see.

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But as we descended the mountainside down to the beach, on a seriously steep sand dune, it was clean it may take us longer than the anticipated time. It was still freezing though.

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Once on the beach, which going down for was easy, we spotted a bunch of Sea Lions just basking in the sun and catching all the freezing wind. We got closeish, with Bob capturing some pictures whilst one Sea Lion watched him effortlessly in the corner of his eye.

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At one point Bob moved away and he bounded up, but right after he sank back down onto himself and there was no problem, just a quick moving Bob. After our Seal encounter, we walked then the full length of the beach, with the wind in our backs.

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At the other end of the beach we found even more Seals. At first they were invisible, lying on the rocks and blending in, but when we got closer they all popped their heads up to check us out and then waddled over the rocks to either get a better view or run away from us.

And then we made our way back up the beach and began the long steep hike up the sand dune. By this time we started to delayer ourselves because even though it was cold with the wind, the sun was shining and we were hiking Mt Everest for all it felt like. As you can see it was a pretty steep climb.

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At the top we enjoyed the cold wind and the view from the beach we had just explored. But once at our cars it was safe to say we were a little exhausted, and it was only 10:30amish. But we continued onto our next hiking destination which was Tunnel Beach. We parked the car, wrapped ourselves up again and began the walk down another extremely steep hill, which at least this time was gravel and not sand!

We got about 1/5th of the way down, saw the tunnel rock formation that made the beach a destination, took some pictures and then decided we didn’t want to have to hike all that up later so we just headed back to the car noting that we had tickets Tunnel Beach of our lists.

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So at this point we are now again in our cars and driving along the freeway south. Along the way we stop for lunch of course because people have to eat. Leonne and I also took our afternoon naps and woke up just in time to arrive at Kaka Point. Now as the name somewhat implies it really is a nothing of a town, but it is situated on a beautiful coastline and only 20km down the road is the location that everyone visits; Nugget Point.

And because everyone visits we went there too. Ok no we also went there because look its absolutely stunning!

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It was only a short walk from the car park along the high and sheer cliff sided walkway to the beautifully situated lighthouse. And we were so fortunate because yes it was still cold, but the sun way shinning right on the lighthouse for us to capture some cool images. That was until we saw rain forming over the ocean right next to us, coming towards us.

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In that moment we then decided we had definitely seen Nugget Point and were happy to head back to the car before we got drenched. Well we made it about half way back before the sky opened up, drenching us quite a bit in less than 5 minutes. When we got back to the car, drenched, the sun decided to come out again. Yes we were wet and cold, but we had seen a pretty amazing view and watched rain come to us, go over us and then pass which was also a cool sight.

From Nugget Point, us ladies had another little car nap, which come on its normal right…? We woke when we arrived at our campsite for the night; Whistling Frog Campground and Resort. After the usual set up, which really only involved reversing both cars and turning the engines off, we went to the bar and had a drink. We ended up deciding to eat dinner there because they had a restaurant and at 8pm when we were the only guests left and they wanted to close, we were ushered the bill and out the door.

But not too worry, although it was early the sun had only just gone down and we had been told that when that occurred we could then go see glowworms. So we grabbed a car, drove a short distance to a waterfall track and then walked around in the dark, not creepy at all. We got to a certain part in the track that Alex had been told to stop at, turned our lights out and then once our eyes adjusted saw some little glows. It was very faint and there were not so many to see, but we saw enough to make it feel like stars were right in front of our faces.

On the drive back to the campgrounds we saw a serious amount of possums, and almost killed all of them. They just wandered around on the road and didn’t even notice until the car was right next to it. Luckily we didn’t kill any, just spooking a few.

Once back at the caravan park its safe to say that our day exploring the peninsula was full on and we deserved a bit of rest.

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