Dunedin is the fifth largest city in New Zealand, after Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton (though I hear Tauranga is giving it a run for the fifth spot…) and has nothing whatsoever to do with the Lord of the Rings movies. No studios, no filming locations. Nada. Nichts. Nichevo.
Everytime I think of Dunedin, I think of LotR. This is me we’re talking about, after all.
I make the LotR connection because for the first month I was in New Zealand, I was pronouncing Dunedin as “doo-ne-DINE,” as in the Dunedain, the Northern Rangers (such as Aragorn) descended from the Numenorians. Kiwis smiled as only Kiwis can when someone is mangling their place-names. Only when I caught a weatherman pronouncing it properly – “duh-NEED-en” – did I realize my error.
Unfortunately, the LotR pronunciation was already imprinted in my brain, so now, whenever I am about to say “Dunedin,” my brain does a quick back handspring from LotR to the Roger Waters song “Dunroamin’ Duncarin’ Dunlivin'” to which I add “Duneedin'” and it all works out. At least no one’s been giving me that patient, slightly patronizing smile anymore.
It’s a good think I learned how to say Dunedin because it’s my favorite New Zealand city (though I liked both Auckland and Wellington… Christchurch and Hamilton, eh, not so much… as for Tauranga, haven’t been. Yet.). It’s a lot like a small and manageable San Francisco without the appalling traffic or high prices. Great architecture, lots of hills, the sea at your doorstep and plenty of interesting shops and restaurants and museums.
The first time I was in Dunedin I was just driving through it enroute to see the awesome Yellow-Eyed Penguin Colony, but this weekend I spent two days just in the city, checking out a few of the museums, eating Indian food, walking up and down the hills to work off the Indian food and shopping at Lush (I had a coupon… I spent it and they gave me a voucher… I spent that and they gave me another coupon, plus samples… ah, Lush….. big hugs, girls, big hugs. I heart you all.).
Karl and I also hiked up Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world according to people who keep track of such things. Yeah, it was pretty steep. While we walked at a leisurely pace, a local guy with understandably great legs was running up and down it, up and down… wow.
On the way back to where I live, I passed… Skylon! Yes, my old Spaceship, now serving some other wanderers. I thought of honking and waving but the people wouldn’t have known what the heck I was on about and I didn’t want to make Bill jealous. It’s okay, Bill… what me and Skylon had was good while it lasted, but it’s over between us. You’re the only vehicle for me now. And you’ve got all wheel drive! That’s something Skylon never had…