After leaving the Moeraki Boulders we arrived in Dunedin, home of our dear friends Judy and Keith Sutton whom we met 15 years ago on the banks of the Twizel River here on the South Island. You see the Suttons have a holiday bach there and Mike and I just happened to be having our lunch along the river. (We were bicycling at the time.) Well, Judy Sutton heard American voices and just had to investigate. We made our introductions and Judy asked where we were from. I said I grew up in a small town in northern California and Judy proceeded to ask where. When I said Redding our lives became forever entwined. Their daughter Christine was at that very moment over in Redding, California as an aupair (nanny)! Now you talk about a small world.
Later that trip we visited with them in their hometown of Dunedin and their daughter ended up having Easter at my mother’s house! When Judy came to California for a visit she was sure to come to Chico and give us the surprise of our lives. She popped in on Mike at his employer; Pullins Cyclery and he promptly brought her home to see me. To this day Judy remembers how I screamed when I saw her.
The reception this visit was just as warm and we all got enormous hugs upon arrival. We couldn’t stop visiting from the second we came through the door and at the last minute we decided to grab a quick bite and head off for the second half of the Otago Highlanders Rugby Match. I was our first rugby match and though I didn’t know half of what was going on it was a thrill to be in the grandstands of this huge stadium watching kiwis have a go at one another. We managed to find Keith and Judy’s son Glenn, who was there with two of his daughters, and after watching the game Gregory, Keith, Emily and I went down on the field and the kids had a chase under the stadium lights. After the game we connected with Judy and Keith’s younger son Darryl (who was 12 when we last saw him) and we all sat in the stands and visited for some time before we had to take the kids home and get them tucked in to bed.
We spent one day just catching up and had a really nice dinner with Glenn and his wife Julia and the girls, Emily, Ruby and Lucy and were also joined by Darryl and his girlfriend Kate. The next morning we joined Glenn, Julia and girls at the Moana pool for some water fun. The Aquatic complexes here are something else. There were various pools of different depths, all quite warm, with fountains, rapid river loops, diving boards, a high dive platform, a spa (for adults) and Gregory’s favorite the hydro slide. We all got in on the action and Keith, Mike, Greg and I made close to a dozen runs on the slide. (Gregory many more!) It was tons of fun for all!
Judy connected with us after the pool and we had a picnic in the Queens Park where a statue of Queen Victoria watched over us. After that there was a hike on the Pineapple Walking Track with majestic views of Dunedin and then a vigorous walk down to Tunnel Beach with grand views of the sea, spectacular stacks, arches and cave formations along this sweeping coastline. We were told that the Cargill family had a castle not far from Tunnel Beach and that because Mr. Cargill’s daughter wanted to be able to get down the cliffs to play on the beach he had Stairway Tunnel dug through the mountainside to give access to this small beach surrounded by striking sandstone sea cliffs on three sides. I thought that was quite a nice story and I’m sure back then it was no small feat to create that tunnel and with a pick I imagine. It was a jam-packed day made special by the friends we shared it with.