Next up on the tour list was Dunedin, New Zealand's answer to Edinburgh. So after a final night in Wellington, the South Island called. The flight was quick and painless (despite the warnings I had heard about flying out of the windy City) and we were south before lunchtime.
The first stop for the trip was Otago Access Radio. Ben and I were interviewed and I performed some poems and the programme will be up later this month as well as a podcast.
After our radio experience I found myself enjoying a beer with a couple of travelling friends from back home who happened to be in Dunedin at the same time. It was a lovely catch up and seeing familiar faces in such unfamiliar surroundings always makes me consider just how small the world can be. Having said that, it was odd being in a City designed around Edinburgh - my home away from home. I saw the oldest looking building I have seen so far in this brand new country and during the evening felt very at home sampling some tasty malts.
It was then time for the Dunedin gig, which was at Dog With Two Tails, a lovely cafe/bar with a really cool vibe and a train set running round the top of the room, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The gig was great. The venue was packed, the open mic was lovely and the audience was really on board with my work. I had a fantastic night and would definitely return to Dunedin, should I happen to be in the area, which one of Ben's Wellington friends was, coincidentally! It seems that Dunedin is the place to catch up with friends and so we spent the rest of the night with Tiho (pictured below with a bottle of "Poetry Wine" from the night before.
The next day was the only day in the month totally dedicated to sightseeing. Our treat day involved renting a car, getting up super early and making the drive across the South Island to Queenstown, one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand and, for this reason, a real tourist hotspot.
I drove for the first time outside of the UK and, despite the challenge of the indicators being on the wrong side (which meant I put the windscreen wipers on more than once on the motorway when trying to overtake) it was probably the most pleasant drive of my life (ignore my face in the photo - I was clearly concentrating!)
The weather was spectacular and the views were honestly breathtaking. I really have never seen anything like it.
I have included some photos below from the day trip. We went up the gondola to marvel at the beautiful views, enjoyed a game of minigolf (not a natural talent.... think I will stick to the poetry) and had a lovely glass of wine and fresh oysters against the prettiest backdrop before heading back.
On the drive back we stopped to look at the stars and I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing. I don't think I have ever seen the milky way before and I got quite emotional just looking up and considering my unimportance on this planet!
The South Island trip was brief (we caught a flight to Wellington the next morning) but totally worth it.
The gig was great and the trip to Queenstown was completely unforgettable!
I am now back in Hawke's Bay, preparing for the final tour date tomorrow and for teaching at the National Youth Drama School for the last week - starting on Saturday.
I will leave you with the fantastic photos below that don't quite do justice to the beauty of this country.
Until next time!