Recovery Time

Backlit leaves

Had occasion to walk through Dunedin Botanical Gardens’ hothouse the other day with my sister and niece. This is now my freshest memory of walking through here (and the cactus house). A new memory which settles on top of all past memories (memories that go back over fifty years now) of being there – alone as a student then later with my children, then with other children I’ve cared for, with friends, with my mother and with my grandchildren. When I return to favourite places, more and more I find layers of memories trail behind me.


More cacti

A very tall specimen

My sister and her daughter’s return to Perth, Australia after our recent family reunion, was unexpectedly delayed because my niece had to have emergency surgery.

Hothouse beauty

Although not a welcome reason for them to have to remain a little longer in Dunedin, it did mean we had a bit more time to spend together. Then when my niece was discharged, she had to spend time recovering before being assessed as ‘fit to fly’. This provided a good opportunity to show them around Dunedin’s attractions – including the Botanical Gardens.

Coral-coloured hothouse exotics

Eye-catchers near to the door out

Scarlet tuft

Make-a-wish goldfish

How many times have I stood on the small bridge spanning this small goldfish pond, dishing out coins to grandchildren to throw into and make a wish? Warning them, “Shh, don’t tell me your wish, or it won’t come true.”


and irises

Before the Gardens visit, I took my Aussies to where they could see all of Dunedin city laid at their feet. Despite nearly being blown off the top of Signal Hill, they were suitably impressed.

View one

View two

and of course, there was the steepest street

My niece’s recent surgery meant that she wasn’t fit to climb up, even as far as where my friend Ruth, through her Poems on Steps project has organised for my poem to be painted. But as my English pal Chrissie says, “You always have to leave something for next time.”

Looking down from Karetai track on to Boulder Beach

Of course I also took them along the peninsula, approaching it from Highcliff Road where they got marvellous views of the harbour and peninsula on a beautiful ANZAC Day (the weather behaving perfectly). The photo above wasn’t what they saw, but as I didn’t take any photos myself that day, I’ve added in one that shows a sea view a bit to the right (south-east, Pacific Ocean-side).

Dunedin’s Momona Airport sculpture ‘Southern Man’.

Once they got the all clear to fly, my sister and niece were away. They were both keen to be back with family who were missing them. Despite the unpleasant reason for their visit being prolonged, it had been sweet to spend the extra time together.

P.S. Special thanks to Dunedin Hospital nursing staff and doctors for their exemplary care of my niece. Also to Quest Hotel for going over and above to make sure my niece was safely admitted to the hospital and quickly arranging for extra suitable accommodation for the family.

Some of what they liked about Dunedin:

The views.
The scenery.
The nature.
The beautiful old, historic buildings. (My sister says Perth’s cut-throat removal of old buildings and putting up characterless glass structures, ‘does her head in’).
The beaches.
The polite drivers (which surprised me!)
The politeness, openness and friendliness of the locals.
The patience of locals.
The helpfulness of locals.
The city’s general calmness and peacefulness.
The slower pace of life (compared to Perth anyway).
The fact that it is a ‘ten minute city’ – so-called because it appears that generally, nothing is farther away from home than ten minutes.
Good biscuits.
Good ice cream (and my niece became a fan of my bacon & egg pie, so I’m going to add that in!)


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

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