Comedian Janaye Henry is on a theater tour of Aotearoa Teach teenagers about sex and write to us a Non-tourism NZ approved journal of their travels. This week she is in pottepoti Dunedin.
I arrived at pottepoti Dunedin with big eyes and itching to explore. My roommate itched too, although she didn’t identify it as bed bugs until the third night in our accommodation.
I didn’t have any bites, but after taking my mattress off the bed frame and dragging a card through the cracks, I created a little flea rave. I’ve never been so grateful to see fleas, bugs seem to be more admin. The motel tried to light us up and believe we brought the fleas and bedbugs with us. Our tour guide moved us to new accommodation.
It was O-Week too, and I kept wondering if this was my first year in Wellington. The answer is no, I don’t think anywhere else in New Zealand has the same loose, shattered glass culture as Dunedin. Wellington’s O week was tough too, but it was more about getting caught by a chain-smoking boy in corduroy pants and explaining why The Breakfast Club is the best movie in the world. He’s wrong, it’s Shark Tale.
It may be shocking to some that a city that looks like old Victorian times also contains old racism. Racism is literally everywhere in New Zealand, but the kind of racism here felt old-fashioned. The old ladies clutched their handbags. People stared. People crossed streets to avoid us. Nobody comes for your Strandbags purse, Moira.
When I wasn’t fighting bed bugs or racists, I was at the Moana Pool. A hydroslide, lazy river, wave pool and spa for 18+? Yes, please! My team and I were the oldest on the Hydroslide and probably the least responsible. Nothing gets rid of the stress of the work week like hitting the walls of a hydroslide while you desperately try to keep yourself from colliding with the young child in front of you.
The lazy river is the perfect place to float around with your friends and discuss the merits of dating apps during the tour. The wave pool offered a range of experiences: Flirty Water Fights, a place where kids can be left behind when you want to take a little break, and a great opportunity to meet new friends while the waves send you over to them. Last but not least, we have the Spa 18+. I never went in without my friends because they were mostly bald men with gold chains. We’re a traveling theater company so we’re loud, sensitive, and give off a bizarre energy. When we entered the spa, others often left. I even got a whistle and said to sit down because I was standing in front of my boyfriend and I guess I’m giving off some great spa energy? I spent most of the time in the spa, staring longingly at the lazy river or the hydroslide.
After my days at the pool, Woof was my favorite place! This is the strangest place I have found in Dunedin. Expect berets, mullets, incredible colorful outfits, cocktails and a delicious snack menu. They have kiwi onion dip on their snack menu. I love the contrast between $ 18 cocktails and onion dip – it’s a bit presumptuous sure, but it’s confident! Whenever we went out to see what else the Dunedin nightlife has to offer, we always ended up with Woof! because nowhere in this city is as good as Woof! It’s a place where the bar staff say, “Oh, hello, back again!” I love this shtick! Acknowledge me by reminding yourself that I’ve been here five times! The customer service is so good that it makes me feel like friends.
I would go back to Dunedin. It’s a fun city to walk around, the op shops clap and I need a cocktail at Woof! Back at the Moana Pool after a big day. I don’t quite get the hype – I have friends who are HYPE for Dunedin. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe they’re not experiencing racism, maybe I’m automatically a little suspicious of Victorian architecture. I’ll be back sometime, but first.
Next stop: Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa, east coast baby!
Subscribe to Rec Room, a weekly newsletter that delivers the latest videos, podcasts, and other recommendations from The Spinoff straight to your inbox.