Monday, May 7, 2018

Not Denver but Dunedin

Alert readers ( - ) will remember that I was looking forward to going to IPW again this year, which will be held in a few weeks' time in Denver, where I have never been. Mile High, Red Rocks, Rocky Mountains, all that. But I had to pull out, disappointingly. However. Fate has conspired to present me with an alternative so today I have come to TRENZ, the NZ equivalent of IPW - being held this year in Dunedin. (Although, for today's connection, the woman I sat next to on the SkyBus to the airport in Auckland was from - you've guessed? Denver.)
Now, Dunedin is not Denver. It's small and sea-level, for a start. It's also proudly Scottish, and maybe a bit more Glasgow than Edinburgh. On the basis of my walk this afternoon along Princes Street, through the Octagon and on along George Street to the Otago Museum, I'd say its large student population is responsible for the high number of pubs, caf├ęs and op shops that I passed today - as well as party goods shops, and a 'Marijuana Museum'. It's all a bit of a contradiction with the sturdy Victorian and Edwardian buildings with their pediments and pillars, many of them former insurance companies and banks.
But it's lively enough - although I was impressed by everyone obediently waiting at pedestrian crossings for the signal to change, despite there being minimal traffic along the main street - and I especially liked some of the street art (haven't found the famous Ed Sheeran one yet).
The museum is - naturally: university city - very good, and included Sir Edmund Hillary's camera amongst other memorabilia; and some fabulous ship models. It was a bit sad to see the stuffed animals in the Victorian-themed attic display - they did warn me that it wouldn't fit with modern sensibilities, to be fair. Polar bear, Sumatran rhino, a couple of poor lions that escaped a circus and evaded recapture. But otherwise it's a professional, modern museum, and well patronised.
They're very keen on their sport here too, and boast the country's only covered stadium, which I went to tonight for the Welcome Function. There were bagpipes, of course, and Maori speeches and singing, and highland dancing, and Chinese dragons, surprisingly, and the Bledisloe Cup and Richie McCaw - with whom of course I did not get a selfie, committed rugbyphobe that I am. 

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