If you’re looking to change up your environment for unloading your emotional baggage on some friends and listening to their existential crises, then hitting up a lookout is an obvious solution.
Whether it’s a dusty Sunday or a tearful Thursday, there’s nothing like a car therapy session over some gorgeous views. Let’s not fake the facts; 2020 has been one hefty, interesting, never-ending spiral of confusion. It is essential to check on your mates’ wellbeing, as well as avoid pending assignments, and what better way to kill two birds with one stone than by going for a spin and staring into the distance? Dunedin has plenty of choices, being a city that is built mostly on hills and all. For the sake of this investigation, a car was necessary. However, if there is a will, there is a way. Good luck, look after yourself and your friends. It’s mental health innit.
A small little park near Mornington based at the top of a steep hill, Unity Park has a lovely view of the harbour and a pretty busy carpark. The park is apparently named Unity Park after the relationship between New Zealand and the United States and is dedicated to Mr Byrd who explored Antarctica. Day time is definitely a poor time to visit this spot if you want privacy to have a cry due to the number of people visiting. Special mention to the taxi driver having a cheeky kip in between jobs. However, the possibility of seeing a dog is high, therefore that may make the trip worthwhile. If you’re keen for a game of sad-girl-hours rugby with a lovely view, then this is definitely the place for you.
View: 7/10. Nice size, nice to see the lights, good amount of bush.
Privacy: Mr Byrd/10, always watching and always listening.
Accessibility: 7/10, easy drive but would suck to walk up that hill.
General aura: 6/10, family-friendly but low key sketchy at night.
Wholesome factor: 4/10, nothing extraordinary besides the crippling realisation that life is too short.
Signal Hill is a staple for Dunedin residents and tourists due to the view of the whole city. Dedicated to the Dunedin Centennial, the statues (which many locals refer to as “the Buddhas” even though they absolutely are not Buddhas) look over you and the whole city. The Dunedin attractions website describes the lookout as an “iconic vista offering panoramic views of the city”. On the other hand, my friend described it as “pretty mean”. Very popular with travellers and locals taking some pics, it is definitely not secluded. There is not much of a view from the carpark either, unfortunately, as it is obstructed by the statues. If you want some views, you’re gonna have to leave the car, so a coat is definitely recommended.
Overall, Signal is the lookout of all Dunedin lookouts, but for talking with your friends about heavy topics in private? Nah. Just take some group pics instead, or hold hands on the ledge and give each other a kiss.
View: 10/10, probably the best lookout of the city, correct me if I’m wrong.
Privacy: 1/10, unless you go at 2am there will probably be people there.
Accessibility: 3/10, could bus and walk but no thank you.
General aura: 9/10, statues judging you but they seem cool.
Wholesome factor: 6/10, felt the love, don’t fall down the stairs, don’t be alone with your thoughts.
John Wilson Ocean Drive (St Kilda)
Another iconic Dunedin hotspot is JW Drive, and may I say, it was pretty romantic. Watching the waves crash, feeling the sea breeze, looking for a purpose in life; definitely a top three lookout. This place always has people around, even on a cold day there’s usually people chilling in their car or having a surf. In terms of having a DMC, the best time to go is before sunset. Park up your car or sit on the bank and get sand in your crack. Watch the pink sky. Grab your friends’ hands. Fall in love.
View: 9/10, we love the beach.
Privacy: 7/10, people usually mind their business, lots of carparks.
Accessibility: 8/10, bit out of the way but it’s an easy drive or bus ride. Take a lime if you’re feeling cute.
General aura: 9/10, hot girl summer vibes, some bogans.
Wholesome factor: 9.5/10, the beach is soothing but may re-emerge some trauma in your life.
This one is a bit of a drive, so definitely make a trip out of it. Located past St Kilda hides some cute beaches that have carparks meant for this. We parked up on a hill by (I’m guessing) Smaills Beach, and there was another car that had exactly the same idea as us. It seems that this is a popular destination to talk to your friends about your intergenerational trauma, but two’s company as they say. Besides the clouds blocking a lot of the view, make sure you go at sunset again to really take it in. Or sunrise, especially after a munted night. This was less romantic than St Kilda, and a longer drive, so it probably is the lesser of the two beaches in terms of effort and reward. Regardless, as I said, we love the beach.
View: 8.5/10, find a good carpark.
Privacy: 8/10, not that packed but definitely will have a couple of 420 punters lol.
Accessibility: 2/10, out of town, take an Uber and see if they’ll join in on your conversation.
General aura: 5/10, people will stare at you while you cry but that’s okay.
Wholesome factor: 6/10, with every crashing of a wave realised that there is no meaning after all.
This trip involved a brisk walk through the cold instead of a drive, to really feel at one with nature. Except we walked into the industrial area behind the train station and along the wharf, just to sit on the bench and look at the water. I’ll be honest, this wasn’t much of a lookout, rather an attempt to listen to the lapping of the bay and feel something. Regardless it was a lovely walk through an empty part of town at night, and needless to say it was a quiet place to feel the warmth of your friends’ love and really lend an ear to their thoughts.
View: 3/10, and that’s being generous, but it’s a bit quirky at night.
Privacy: 9/10, no one around except the haunting memory of those who did you wrong.
Accessibility: 9/10, easy walk, easy drive.
General aura: 5/10, the smell of petrol, boat and oil was definitely present.
Wholesome factor: 2/10, don’t fall in the water, maybe pick somewhere else to be honest.
The Botanical Gardens are always reliable for a good time, whether you want to feed some ducks or look at some flowers. The Gardens are open from “dawn to dusk”, which is an ample amount of time to find somewhere isolated and really dig in to some feelings. I recommend sitting on the hill that looks over the gardens itself, and make a duck listen too. Being a garden, there are also plenty of bushes to hide in if you’re feeling a bit vulnerable with your emotions.
View: 7/10, nice plants but cannot compare to the beach.
Privacy: 5/10, definitely a family area and has park rangers.
Accessibility: 6.5/10, very easy to get there but very easy to get caught slipping.
General Aura: 8/10, nature girl aesthetic, Instagram feed doesn’t know what’s gonna hit it.
Wholesome factor: 7.5/10 nice flowers and even nicer company.