The insanity of Dunedin summers

The water tank is full, the garden is soaked, the roof is fixed, the heater is on, the coffee is warm … it’s a good day to read.  It is high summer in Dunedin after all.

‘The climate in Dunedin, from its bracing character, as compared with the more warm, and, in some instances, weakening climate of the northern parts of New Zealand, presents an advantage for study, which those who have had experience in warm climates will fully appreciate’. – ‘Notes of Travel in New Zealand’, Evangelist, June 1871; cited in the Otago Daily Times, 28 December 2009.

That said, it’s just as likely to be beach weather tomorrow, (at least for 10 minutes or so) …

One could go crazy here. Which brings me to a piece by J.A. Torrance on ‘Public Institutions’ in a fascinating book titled Picturesque Dunedin: or Dunedin and its neighbourhood in 1890 (Dunedin Mills, Dick and Co., Printers and Publishers, Octagon 1890) edited by Alex Bathgate. In a section on ‘The Lunatic Asylum’, Torrance writes:

‘This question of insanity has all along been a serious one to Otago, and indeed to the whole of New Zealand, not because this kind of malady has prevailed here more than in other places, but because of the shameful extent to which weak-minded and mentally impaired persons have been deported from the Home country by their relatives or others, and shunted on to the colony’. (p. 223)

So, not only are ‘the grounds around the buildings a veritable Slough of Despond’, but one might reasonably conclude that Dunedin is a great place to get wet, study and go mad … especially if you’re a ring-in from out-of-town.


  1. Thanks for filling me in on Dunedin, Jason, since I’ve never been to New Zealand. I do know from reading Michael Jackson’s magisterial Malt Whisky (the 1995 edition from my time in St Andrews) that many Scots migrated there, that Dunedin is an ancient name for Edinburg (I should have remembered that from Macbeth), and that a tasty whisky named Lammerlaw was made there. Do they still make it there? BTW, where I live it is right now, half a world away and on the top half, about 20 degrees F and snowing. It’s also yesterday, or is it tomorrow? I can never remember.


  2. Saw your post, and yes, I have tried Smokehead. The guy in the Edinburgh shop from where I purchased it also suggested that it was Ardbeg. Either way, I thought it was a good drop, and very funky packaging.


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