FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Street art in Dunedin

Posted in Dunedin, New Zealand by folkestonejack on January 4, 2016

The mental images that I construct when thinking of New Zealand invariably focus on the incredible natural beauty of the country, the many wonderful historic buildings from the late 19th/early 20th century and the seemingly endless options for thrillseeking experiences. On the whole, I haven’t tended to think too much about the wider urban landscape in all of this. However, my impressions have been challenged by the street art revolution taking place in Dunedin.

DALeast's depiction of the extinct Haast eagle

DALeast’s depiction of the extinct Haast eagle

It is quite appropriate that Dunedin is leading the way as this is the city that saw New Zealand’s first public Art Gallery and first Art Society. Indeed, it is fair to say that the foresight of the early advocates has seen Dunedin become one of the most exciting centres of street art in the southern hemisphere.

ROA's tuatara in Bath Street

ROA’s tuatara in Bath Street

The creation of works by Belgian artist ROA and Brit Phlegm in the city started the ball rolling in Dunedin and gave everyone an opportunity to see just how remarkable these pieces can be. Building on this, the first Dunedin Street Art festival in October 2014 saw invitations extended to some of the world’s most talented street artists.

Detail from Phlegm's piece on the wall of Vogel Street Kitchen

Detail from Phlegm’s piece on the wall of Vogel Street Kitchen

Today, there are currently over 30 murals to find in the city and more walls in the city will be painted by NZ and international artists in the first quarter of 2016 (for updates see the Dunedin Street Art facebook page). Most of the artworks are located in and around the Warehouse Precinct. A free map of the artworks is available from the i-Site in the Octagon.

A section of Phlegm's Song Bird Pipe Organ

A section of Phlegm’s Song Bird Pipe Organ

I rather like the fact that many of the artists have chosen designs that reflect or incorporate local references. DALeast has depicted New Zealand’s extinct Haast eagle, Phlegm’s Song Bird Pipe Oegan shows one of his myserious characters playing an instrument that releases native NZ birds (including the kākāpō, takahē and kiwi) and ROA’s native tuatara.

Dunedin already has alot to attract visitors but this is one development that will keep the spotlight on the city. I am sure I will be back someday to see the latest artworks.

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A stroll up the steepest street

Posted in Dunedin, New Zealand by folkestonejack on January 4, 2016

Our drive along the Otago Coast ended with our arrival in Dunedin around 1pm and a stop at one of the quirkier tourist sights located on the outskirts of the city – the steepest residential street in the world. It came into existence by accident – the early city planners applied a grid pattern to the land without any thought for the terrain.

Baldwin Street - the steepest street in the world

Baldwin Street – the steepest street in the world

Baldwin Street is relatively short at just 350 metres, but in that distance rises from 98ft above sea level to 330ft above sea level. At its steepest the slope of the road is 35% (19 degrees). The upper stretches of the road are concrete rather than asphalt to avoid the possibility of the road surface melting and running down the slope in hot summers! Each year a charity event here sees many thousands of jaffas rolled down the street.

I was daft enough to take a walk up from the bottom and can vouch for the steepness of the upper sections. It’s a surprisingly popular attraction and I was far from alone in this endeavour. At the top of the street you can find a beautiful painted bench and wall depicting the road you have just climbed up.

Other sights that we stopped at on our wanders around the city included Dunedin Railway Station (a rather curious confection in revived Flemish renaissance style), the First Church of Otago (widely regarded as the most impressive of New Zealand’s nineteenth-century churches), the Dunedin Botanic Garden (the oldest in New Zealand) and the Dunedin Cenotaph.

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