new friends in dunedin!

Back in 2005, I worked in the education department at Mars Hill University back when it was just a wee college. It was there that I met one of my favorite people, Dr. Tom Destino. Erica and I share an admiration for the doctor and we enjoy any beverage he chooses to join us for on the rare occasion in Weaverville. I posted a picture of some gorgeous New Zealand beach on facebook and the doctor commented something like: “I think Beth Hardin and Tessa Blake should find each other in NZ. Both Yankees cruising through paradise.”

Tessa is married to Ian, who is Tom’s wife’s second step cousin. Whoa. They moved to Dunedin for Tessa’s job in October. I think it was 3 minutes after I read his comment that we had both messaged each other. Any friend (or family member) of the doctor’s is a friend of mine. The timing was crazy, since we planned on going to Dunedin the next day. Tessa said, “Stay with us!” I said, “There are four of us!” She said, “Bring it on, sistah!”

Tessa and Ian are top notch. It’s been refreshing to talk about the small differences we’ve noticed between America and New Zealand, i.e. the KMart, the kiwi greetings, the road signs. It’s a true delight to spend time with them. In fact, I don’t want to leave (I will though, guys, I will…) Sometimes we just sit by the fire and laugh for hours about the different pronunciations of “nick” and “neck”. Their kiwi friend, Jess, says them exactly the same way but she hears the nonexistent distinction, which makes us laugh even harder. Since we’ve been staying with Tessa and Ian, the Little Mermaid song gets belted out in the kitchen, we’ve overly enjoyed banoffee pie (banana and toffee with an Oreo crust that Jess makes), we played Things with hilarious and awesome kiwis, and we were taped by CNN Go while we did the Green Man Brewery tour. It airs in February!

Dunedin has all one would ever need. The city is covered in strong coffee and secondhand bookstores, it’s surrounded by water, the water is surrounded by mountains, and the mountains are full of amazing hiking trails. 

Today was our adventure day since the forecast promised sun. We headed to the farmer’s market and I bought gifts for my dad that make me smile because I know they’ll make him smile. We then decided to attempt a hike to Tunnel Beach from a trail Tessa accidentally found a few days ago. It was an adventure alright. We hiked through farmland, over fences, near cliffs, and through thistle almost my height. It was intense and totally worth it for these views:

The story is that a father blasted this tunnel in the mountain for his daughter so she could have access to this beach:

Kasey and I went to The Scottish Shop to find some Dunedin souvenirs. We told them we grew up in Dunedin, FL and they said at times, they’ve gotten calls from people who wanted to be talking to the Scot Shop in Dunedin, FL. Then they showed us a brochure from our Dunedin in the 90s and it held pictures of Grant Stadium and Carlos Delgado, The Chick A Boom Boom Room, and the Causeway sign. It was a nice slice of home.

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