© MMXVII Agimar N. Edelgranberget
The one thing that really sucks when returning from Stewart Island is …, well, it’s Bluff. I don’t know how to describe it. I really don’t want to suggest to visit that shithole, because, you know, it’s the biggest, decent pile of dirt when it comes to coastal towns, like ever. Especially upon just returning from Stewart Island and its amazing nature. I bet people kill themselves all around the clock, here in Bluff. If the planet has an asshole, then its name is Bluff.
Hell, it was the first time in my fucking life that I saw the stars reflecting in the calm sea at night. And then, Bluff, again. It has been etherial: sitting on a rock by the sea, the stars above me, and – beyond. Like floating in the center of the universe.
Now I’m sitting at the parking lots near the ferry and looking out for a lift. Gotta get outa here. Problem is, I don’t smell like a rosebush. These last two weeks in the woods were sure awesome, but I also just smell like any other fuckin‘ backpacker returning from a trail.
Anyway, It’s friggin‘ New Zealand, so five minutes later I’m standing next to an elderly canadian women, as it turned out later, who had just returned from her bach on Stewart Island. I saw her on the ferry – she sure noticed that I am a tourist, so she asks me if I’d need a lift.
Yé, wicked, hat woul‘ be awesome! You headin‘ for Dunedin?, I ask her in return. New Zealand always gives me the feeling of being human.
Nah, to the Catlins, visiting a friend. Hop on, I can at least take you that far., she says.
Are you sure you wanna go to Dunedin?, she wants to know after the usual smaltalk. Where you from? Whatcha plans? How do you like New Zealand? All kind of that sort of questions.
Of course I wanna go there! I mean, leavin‘ Bluff and Invercargill behind just would make my life a million times more enjoyable, but anyway, I heard so much about Dunedin and its beautiful city. The Otago peninsula… The Catlins, tho, are supposed to be sweet as, too., I reply.
‘Course they are, honey. That’s why I’m heading there. But Dunedin… Beautiful scottish Town, isn’t it? Anyway, I don’t know…, she says, having a mysterious aura about her.
No, go ahead…, I am surely interested.
Have you ever heard ‘f the Dunedin Ripper?, she asks, frowning.
The what?, I interject.
The Dunedin Ripper., she repeats herself.
Like a rip in the sea? Or do you mean Jack the Ripper? I sure know him!, I laugh.
It in’t that funny, she coughs.
Who is he?, I ask, my curiosity kicking in.
That’s the thing, nobody knows. Nobody has ever seen him or remembered his face. Him. Her? Unknown. And, actually, that’s not quite surprising.
You’re talking like a true Kiwi, I laughed, are there souvenir-shops in Dunedin selling ‚The-Dunedin-Ripper‘-franchise and collectibles?
She wouldn’t talk to me about the ripper any more. She probably thought I made fun of her, while I experienced the same vice versa. The Dunedin Ripper. What a pile ‘a horseshit.
We kept quiet for a while, just enjoyed the incredible landscape and the scenic views, doing some smalltalk now and then.
In the Catlins our ways parted. Thanks for the ride!, I shout, waving and fetching my backpack.
No worries, mate! Hope we meet again sometime. The world is smaller than one might think! Don’t forget the Dunedin Ripper. I’d head right for Oamaru if I were you, she says friendly.
Ya, will do!, I say, puzzled, chuckling.
I stayed at a b’n’b in the Catlins for two days and found me a Naked Bus up to Dunedin. The Catlins are choice. Nobody ever locks their doors there – I wonder if they even possess keys down there. Amazing irish scenery. Gonna miss it.
Same day, a little later I am getting off the bus in Dunedin. Omfg. Muthafucka. Every time you think it can’t possibly become more astonishing, another place in New Zealand just bitch-slaps you ready to go. My cheeks are hurting badly after four months in Aotearoa. Heart freezing gothic city. I am overjoyed.
I make my way to the hostel which is an ancient hospital. Chessboard floors. Friggin‘ gothic interior. In the bathroom there is one of these old tubs that stand alone, on their own feet. And an almost weird host, the appearance of a satanic witch like in ‘Rosemary’s baby’. Sweet as! I’ve got a small single room for myself. I don’t like sharing rooms, you know. I can, always did, but I don’t like. It’s late – I take a shower and go to bed.
Next day, I’ve got a nervous breakdown. Grandma died, says the phone. I could but I can’t return home. I’m dillemmized to ashes. I stay, the fuck I am.
The day after I wander through the city. So soul nourishing. The architecture! If you wouldn’t know, you might think you were in Scotland. The octagon, the incredible Railway Station with its stained glass. The university. In a park near the university I find myself walking through a rose garden. I feel watched. As if a black cat was lurking in the rose bushes and watching me. All these clouds.
It’s raining sheep. I visit a call-shop and look for some work. In Blenheim maybe? Dunno.
I planned to stay for a week, so I got plenty of time. This day I make my way up to Signal Hill Lookout and its stone from Edinburgh Castle. What a view. Why can’t time work differently?
Afterwards I pay Baldwin Street a visit. Holy moly. From the lower end of the road it looks like a modern piece of art, where someone attached a car to a wall to criticize the narrowness of the human mind. From the upper end it looks even more disturbing.
Next day: Larnach Castle on the Otago peninsula. I walked all the way from the city center and it took me like three hours. I got wet, dried in the sunlight, got wet again and dried again.
Well, Larnach Castle is a typical example for kiwi exaggeration: It’s a victorian house with a tower. Anyway, it was worth a visit. Tidy park full of flowers. The interior! I don’t want to spoil this, so I will only tell you that the story behind the man who built this house is heart shattering. The house lay in ruins for decades until some clever Kiwis noticed its real value and bought the place.
On my way back in the evening I visit Sandfly Bay. Should have been called Vampyre bay. Fur seals sleeping on the beach. It’s hard not to trip or to fall over them. But I want to see the droll yellow eye penguins. And boy did I see them.
Another day later I walked over to tunnel beach. Amazing. The sea is roaring like a devilish beast. Some priest who owned this place dug a tunnel of steps into the stone down to the beach. There also is a huge natural arch of rock in the sea, covered with grass. In the grass, a lovely young Lady is lying, reading a book. Is she more braw from the inside or the outside? I can’t possibly tell.
My last day in Dunedin. Walking around downtown. No Dunedin Ripper souvenirs, what a surprise…
And then I met her. I see her leaving the bus. Clad in black. Black Hershel Gordon Lewis rucksack. I only see her from behind, but I am sure I’ve seen her before. In a tattoo-studio, in the windows of the ‚Moa got a tā moko‘. Pale skin. She’s a beauty. I recognize here because of her tattoos. Incredible tattoos and some black bands tattooed on her right arm. Shit.
No way she and me… I better get away from there. Don’t dream yourself away.
It happened soon after. You know, these split seconds where you either fall in love or just lose your heart to a daydream. I’m at at counter of a Countdown in downtown, about to pay. I look up, I feel pierced. Behind me, left hand side she stands. Looking at me. Her eyes piercing me like a black cat. Tunnels, septum, a black beanie. Those tattoos. It’s time to run or get a broken heart.
But fate is a bloodthirsty bitch. It’s one o‘ clock. Suddenly everybody stands still. One year ago, there was this huge earthquake in Canterbury. Time is being frozen for a minute or two. Her eyes are piercing me… I don’t dare to look.
I will never see her again. What if I had seen her again? Why didn’t I at least talk to her. What was I afraid of? Maybe I was just scared, like looking into a soul mirror. I’m no use doing anything right.
I’ll miss you, Otago.
Next day I make my way to the Moeraki boulders, then Waimaru and then onwards, northbound, on and on and on.
Some years have passed since I was in New Zealand. In the meantime I have travelled a lot, had a shitload of work to hang on to.
I had already completely forgotten about the Dunedin Ripper.
But one evening when I was feeling a little sad, misplaced, dissociated I finally met him. Had he been following me all along?
Dunedin. Beautiful, impressive Dunedin, wasn’t it? I can’t remember. All memories, the beautiful memories, just blacked out. Like ripped out of my mind.
Where’s my diary. Where is my friggin‘ diary. I kept on writing a diary when I was down there. Where the fuck did I put it? Dammit.
Found it! I open the book. Only blank pages. What on earth…
The photos! I made an album of all the places I was in NZ. I open the album.
All pictures seem to be blackened, like ripped apart. Hell, no! It can’t be!
The Dunedin Ripper!
All my memories are lost. Have I ever been there? If it had been paradise, then why didn’t I stay there? Who am I?
The more I was thinking, the more I felt the ripper. He just cut off memory after memory.
The only thing I can still remember is the Dunedin Ripper. But I can’t even remember his face…