Dunedin’s North East Valley begins at the glorious Botanic Garden and follows Lindsay’s Creek to Bethunes Gully on the lower slopes of Mt Cargill. It’s a vibrant suburb with a range of services including a supermarket, retro shops, and eateries. The Project aims to enhance the quality of life for Valley people through activities and spreading the word about what’s happening in this end of town. They even have their own radio show Valley Voice Radio on Otago Access Radio. So spend a little longer here if you’re visiting Baldwin St (the steepest street in the world) on the right just past the North East Valley School. You’ll see what the locals love about this self-contained and linked up patch of Kiwi heartland.
Just 6 km from the Octagon, in Normanby at the end of the North East Valley, peaceful Bethunes Gully offers several possibilities for walkers, mountain bikers, and picnickers. A gravel track follows Lindsays Creek and leads through pine forest and regenerating native forest to the summit of Mt Cargill, a round trip off around 3 ½ hours with fabulous views. For a longer walk continue to the Organ Pipes (basalt columns) or the A H Reed Memorial Walkway. Lindsays Creek is a favourite spot for children looking for koura the freshwater crayfish among the rocks and there’s a playground, gas barbecues and toilet beside the carpark.
If you enjoy beautiful old trees like beech, maple, yew and macrocarpa, birdsong, history and solitude, Chingford Park, with its air of a secret garden, is a fine place to visit at any time of year. Tucked away on North Rd between Beechworth and Tannadice streets, it contains sports fields, a playground, an archery range and an orienteering course. A road leads across Lindsays Creek to Chingford Stables at the rear of the park, built of basalt in the 1870s, a grand structure now used for functions, originally built to house the horses of the wealthy.
You can’t miss Crusty Corner at the junction of North Rd and Bank St and you won’t miss a thing happening on this busy intersection if you sit by the window. An all-day menu is available from 7 am to 3.30 pm, with their French Toast, Big Breakfast and Black Forest Pancakes being favourites among the local students and other residents who are regulars here. All bread is baked on the premises and a specialty is large croissants with lean towards bread rather than pastry, and come baked with bacon, cheese, sundried tomatoes, apple or chocolate fillings. Cabinet food, pies, coffees and cold drinks are all available and the prices are very reasonable.
Born in Jersey but now a loyal North East Valley resident, musician Tony Renouf is trying to reintroduce the idea of a musical community and the pleasures of hanging out in a record shop. His Too Tone Records at 29 North Rd (open 6 days) sells second hand records and new Dunedin and New Zealand music CDs, with allegedly the largest selection of second hand New Zealand music on the floor of any shop in the country. So if you’re looking for `The Clean or The Bats on vinyl, or just enjoy chatting about music with an enthusiast, join the growing number of regulars who stop by to check out which old records have walked in the door.
Afife Harris – Food and Friendship
North East Valley resident Afife Harris has made a huge contribution since she arrived in Dunedin 25 years ago. Born in Lebanon and married to a Kiwi, Afife has established a group for migrant women, encouraged people to share their food stories and recipes, helped with the creation of food businesses, taught Lebanese cookery, and raised money for charity. Her warmth, charm and entrepreneurial skills have contributed hugely to Dunedin’s vibrant multicultural community. She is also the co-author of Global Feast, a cookbook which brings together over 100 recipes from 26 countries, contributed by Dunedin residents. Afife is very modest about her contribution. “It’s my passion. I like to help people, do things for people.” You can find Afife selling her delicious hummus, falafels, tabbouleh, baklava and borek at the Otago Farmers Market at Dunedin Railway station every Saturday morning.