I Actually Made It to New Zealand!

Hello and greetings from Dunedin, NZ – a town I actually made it to after something like 30 hours of travel and, all in all, much less confusion than I was prepared for given the number of connections and transfers. I had one full day here yesterday for shopping and preparations, and I’m catching a bus this afternoon for the town of Bluff, where the trail begins.

So how have I been spending my time here in Dunedin? Well, first I had to re-buy a bunch of gear since the one bag I checked for all my flights got lost. I had a feeling this could happen, so I packed only the stuff that couldn’t come on the plane with me in that bag – pointy things, like my tent stakes, trekking poles, and pocketknife – plus some heavy stuff like all the tasty dehydrated meals I got on sale and decided to bring with me. From what I could see when I got to the baggage claim area at the airport, I’m not the only person who’s lost a bag. The place was full of carts with hundreds and hundreds of suitcases on them, just sitting there in luggage purgatory. Or maybe luggage vacation? Super glad I had my tent, sleeping quilt, cook kit, and other important stuff with me in my carry-on! Luckily, Dunedin has a bunch of outdoor gear stores so I was able to get replacements for just about all the things I needed. And with any luck my bag will wend its way back to Pennsylvania, where it can relax in peace for the next 6 months.

Next was the supermarket, where I bought all the groceries for the three food parcel boxes I’m mailing to locations further up the trail. Packed those up and walked them over to the post office this morning! So satisfying to organize things in boxes… why is that? Listen, if you need any boxes organized just let me know, k?

Just look at how I put all that stuff in these boxes! Even looking at this picture gives me a glowy feeling of satisfaction.

But by far the best part of the day yesterday was a visit to the Dunedin Botanic Garden – what an incredible place! It’s huge, it’s beautiful, they have amazing gardens and plant collections, and admission is free! I wandered around in a stupor of horticultural appreciation for a few hours and then went to their (absurdly cute) cafe for a coffee and a sandwich. I saw too much cool stuff to even describe in words, so I’m just going to throw a few photos in here for you. When you look at these pics, you have to also imagine me crouching on the ground next to all the plant labels and muttering to myself. Oh, and talking to birds to ask them what they are. Tip: this kind of behavior guarantees a day to oneself, as people are going to avoid you.

This is me freaking out about some Acanthus. But look how tall and happy it looks!!!

A spectacular view of the Dunedin Botanic Garden.

Dunedin is a wonderful town, and I could definitely spend more time here. It’s been the perfect landing pad for my pre-trail preparations, and I hope I get a chance to come back sometime! I’m writing this blog post from the (free!) computer lab at the city library (thank you, library!) and my time’s about done so I’m going to wrap things up. Wish me luck on my first day on trail tomorrow!

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Comments 12

  • Keelin : Dec 31st

    Go Shari!!

  • Rachael : Dec 31st

    Those boxes are beautiful! Sorry your bag got lost. That really stinks. What a huge stroke of wisdom that you packed your bags so wisely, though, and had what you needed. Good luck! We’re having fun following your journey from snowy PA!

  • Mary Lou Bennett : Dec 31st

    So glad you are in Dunedin. My youngest grandchild, Bennett, arrived there in February 2020 for his Junior semester abroad. In March 2020 he returned home. He loved his short time there, especially the Botanic Gardens, which I think are near campus. I love New Zealand and wish you the very best beginning for 2023!

  • SAW : Jan 1st

    IIIIIIIIIIIII am so excited for youuuuuuuuu

    Did you use your bird app?

    Bluff here you come! Have such a great start and have amazing weather!

  • Ruth Merritt : Jan 1st

    Ah, the lush growth of a temperate maritime climate…may the weather goddess be with you my friend…trek on…

  • Beth, Alex, Oscar and Neko : Jan 1st

    Woo-hoo, beautiful! Oscar says, Let’s go, Shari!

  • Ann Mitra : Jan 1st

    I am so excited for you and can’t wait to hear and see more!!!

  • sj : Jan 1st

    glad you made it & glad you were so darned thoughtful about that luggage situation!
    i thought of you today while walking around in the penns woods on a 50 degree (!?!) New Years Day.

  • Kristen : Jan 2nd

    Hooray! Sorry to hear about your trekking poles and other pointy things gone missing, but way to roll with the punches. Happy trails, Shari!

  • Avi Edelson : Jan 2nd

    So. Much. Candy!!!! Hope you brought a back-up tooth brush. Have fun, and watch out for those Wekas! They’ll snatch a bag’o gorp in a flash!



  • julie h : Jan 2nd

    You’re amazing for planning ahead about that lost bag! Yay for public libraries and free botanic gardens. Sounds like you’re in paradise — thanks for sharing it with us. -j

  • Mandy D : Jan 3rd

    Wohoooo! So glad you made it safely and got some time to restock/visit the gardens! That photo of that monster acanthus and you is soo great 🙂 BTW, my first day back in the office post break already feels so empty without you (sigh). Looking forward to your adventuring to come!


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