Sunday, March 16, 2008

March 5, 2008 - Dunedin

Dunedin, which is Gaelic for Edinburgh, was originally settled by Scots. Although the local populace has grown to include a number of other nationalities, the city still styles itself as the "Edinburgh of the South." With its large population of university students, Gothic Revival architecture and good quantity of pubs, the moniker isn't much of a stretch. The vast number of sushi restaurants scattered around town somewhat diminishes the effect, but all in all, good show Dunedin.

It was, of course, raining as we rolled into town. So we headed off to wander through yet another free museum (the best refuge for travelers on a rainy day) where we ran into some folks that we'd last seen in Fiordland. After hearing more than we ever really wanted to know about their tramp along the Kepler Track, we managed to disengage ourselves to check out the museum's collection. After visiting half a dozen regional museums in New Zealand, I've now seen enough greenstone artifacts and replica war canoes for a lifetime. I've got the general idea and I don't really need to see any more. I shared this sentiment with Sten, who promptly responded with "You know the way you feel about war canoes? Well I'm feeling that way about gardens at this point." Hmm, I guess I better scratch that garden tour off of our itinerary for tomorrow . . .

Luckily, one thing that neither of us can ever get enough of is good food and wine. With that in mind we headed over to Plato, an award-winning seafood restaurant down on the waterfront, to continue our quest to try the elusive Bluff oyster. We were disappointed to discover that Bluff oysters are sent 20kms up the road to Invercargill to be processed (ie. shucked) and then shipped around the country. Once the oysters reach the restaurants, sans shell, they are served on shells that have been used previously (I'm sure they are washed between customers). The result is a fresh, but sort of dry oyster. They just weren't as juicy as freshly shucked oysters. This practice struck us as completely bizarre. If we were served such dry oysters in the States, we would have sent them back to the kitchen. The rest of our meal at Plato was really good; but, perhaps we should have stuck around Bluff for a few more hours to try the oysters before the processing company got its hands on them.

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