© 2021, The McGees

NZed Facts and Food

June 20, 2019

All is well and everyone is healthy on this little “lifestyle block”, as it is called here in Dunedin. Fun fact, the city is known as “Edinburgh of the south” and the name comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh.

We entertain a visit from the farrier, Trevor Sutherland, who is internationally known and who happens to have lived in Sonoma County about 20 years ago. He trims the donkeys’ hooves, a very different process from horse hoof trimming, and confirms that they are looking good. We are quite relieved as there is always concern that they will develop “white line disease”. Donkey hooves are particularly susceptible to the culprit fungus, and the moist environment of New Zealand does not help the situation. That moist environment has now turned frosty and frozen with the true advent of winter - donkey coat weather for sure!

Whistle seems to be coming into his own as a single dog, racing happily ahead and afar on the beach or staying loyally right alongside. He spends most days cuddled up next to Tim, and he can’t resist taking part as I continue to do yoga and stretch to keep my healed back in shape. He visits us each morning in bed for a while which is sweet for all of us.

It seems like a majority of Kiwis grow gardens and raise chickens. Here is no exception and we often glean yummy vegetables such as carrots, beans, peas, kohlrabi, lettuces, radishes and leeks from the garden. But now I work to plant a few winter crops and clean things up. I truly am garden naive and have admitted so to the homeowners. They are quite relaxed about it and know that surprises or “nothing” will eventually come up. I have to say though that it is terribly exciting to be digging around and discover 2 huge rogue potatoes. BTW, those little potato looking veggies are true New Zealand yams!

During English class this week, I have the pleasure of learning all about the celebrations of Eid from animated students who happily share photos. I even get to try a traditional Eid sweet made with unsweetened dough, dates and walnuts. Yum! While working with students, another volunteer kindly corrects my pronunciation of the letter Z. I am calling it “zee” while here in NZ, it is pronounced “zed”. Also, as I am working with a student on putting a “period” at the end of a sentence, I am told that in NZ that punctuation is known as a “full stop”. Funny!

On the weekend, we visit the local Settler’s Museum. There is live music happening in the foyer when we arrive - a talented blues duo followed by a funny guy who sings a protest song about getting a parking ticket from the Wilson Parking Services in Dunedin. Tim and I laugh out loud as we also received such a ticket - on our first day out in Dunedin.

This is another impressive and free museum. Originally it consisted of the one room filled with pictures of Europeans, primarily Scots, who settled Dunedin prior to 1846. Today, gratefully, there are robust displays of Maori history as well. Tim, my GIS guy who is always drawn to maps, discovers an emigrant route named after a distant Scottish relative of mine, Sir George Simpson. His route didn’t take him to New Zealand but maybe that’s where this travel bug originates? Small world! I am drawn to the Suffrage and Beyond exhibit - this little island country was the first to grant women the right to vote!

The homeowners have gifted us a dinner at a special restaurant on the Dunedin peninsula. Following the museum, we walk the lovely gardens at sunset and then are treated to the “chef’s choice”. The surprise courses include green lip muscles, gurnard fish, duck consomme, lamb (as in Merino) and a variety of different beets and fresh produce. Meat seems fresher here, and the beets and beetroot are fabulous. I recently ordered a hamburger with a beef / beetroot mince burger patty - quite good!

Overall, we find the cost of food here a bit less expensive than that at home. One of the true perks is that “tipping” is not customary. We love that. At a take-away or fancy restaurant, all patrons go up to the counter to pay their bill at the end of a meal.

We don’t go out to eat very often and have managed to try a new spot every time - except once. We could not help returning to the Waihola Take Away for the blue cod fish and chips recommended by all the locals. You get this box of made to order fish and chips which you take to your car and devour on the spot - to die for!

Hoti loves carrot tops from the garden!

Winter has arrived.

Just Tim and Whistle on the beach today

Yoga with a little help from Whistle

The garden

Music at the museum

The original "settlers" room

The Sir George Simpson emigrant route


Impressive little New Zealand

Tim in the restaurant gardens

Duck consomme served with white port

Merino lamb on beetroot with other yummy stuff

Beef / beetroot burger on the right

Waihola fish and chips - to die for - twice

Written by Julie and Tim McGee who live in Sonoma, California, USA and frequently elsewhere...