It's a late autumn, not quite winter, weekend morning in Dunedin. And it's the story all year round, the Otago Farmers Market is the place to be. The place for fresh produce, delicious cheeses, good coffee, and those pretty famous bacon butties that locals, and travellers from far and wide, queue expectantly for. Welcome to Dunedin.
There are Dunedin locals, tourists from all over, travellers fresh in from the Otago Rail Trail, and more.... And students. Plenty of students, from New Zealand’s first university, the University of Otago. Good to see them filling their bags, lots of Otago Farmers Market bags, with good food.
Plenty of good food
Start with breakfast. Coffee, and a breakfast burrito. And those bacon butties. They’re famous, and they’re very good.
The bakery carts are impressive. Check out doughnuts and tarts in the caravans, ciabatta and pides in the stalls, and of course cheese rolls to take home, heat, butter and eat. You're definitely in the south now.
Onto the produce. Organic greens and veges, seasonal fruit - plums, apricots, nectarines giving way to apples, pears, quince. Fresh fruit from Central Otago, vegetables and berries from the Taieri plains. Stallholders, from all over the Otago province, gather here in Dunedin for a really really busy farmers’ market.
And cheese and meat and poultry and fish. There’s smoked fish and pates, salami, dumplings and tofu. The cheesemongers are in full flight, lots of sampling and lots of stories. It's called farmhouse, as it was first made in the farmhouse shed. Of course.
There’s tremendous entertainment. Buskers busking, and chefs chefing. It’s terrific to see crowds of market-goers watching a market chef in the market kitchen, demonstrating recipes, always using local, seasonal produce from the market-growers. Take it home, and try the recipe there too.
And then there’s the history of where you are. Dunedin. Ōtepoti.
A place of corners
The name comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh. And Ōtepoti (the place of the corners) is the Māori name for Dunedin. Ōtepoti was formerly the site of an old Māori canoe landing, and we've read that the name Ōtepoti signifies "a corner of the harbour".
So it’s known as the Edinburgh of the south. It sure wears its Scottish heritage with pride, one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the southern hemisphere.
And, as if to prove it, there’s the gorgeous Dunedin Railway Station, standing proudly and watching over market proceedings.
And a place of history
The market sets up each weekend on the station grounds. And what a station it is.
More than a century old, it’s a grand building with a stunning combination of dark basalt (from Kokonga in the Strath-Taieri, those rail trailers know that place) and lighter white limestone facings (from Oamaru). That’s the distinctive light and dark pattern that earned its architect the nickname "Gingerbread George”.
The debate continues, is the building actually beautiful or not. We say yes. And many agree. The station’s the most photographed building in New Zealand (and, we’re told, the second most photographed in the southern hemisphere, after Sydney’s house of opera…).
More history and sport too....
So, it’s pretty clear what to do. From here, head to that railway station for an admire. Find more coffee along the way, and enjoy a taste of New Zealand history exploring a most gracious building.
And there’s another treat inside the station. We New Zealanders are, in large part, a sports-mad lot. So, if you’re into that too, you can also peak into the nation’s sporting history, and enjoy some nostalgic sporting moments, by heading upstairs to New Zealand’s sports hall of fame.
Thanks Dunedin. We’ll be back. Soon we hope.
And our idea
And to take home....find tremendous radishes at the Otago Farmers Market. For a simple radish idea, click here.