Penguins, albatross and Dunedin
Trip Start Oct 12, 2005
118Trip End Mar 23, 2006
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Yesterday morning I had to spend a while in the hostel waiting for someone to check out: the one top bunk in the room is deservedly unpopular because of the agility required to clamber into it and I was definitely not doing that again!
Then I walked down through the city centre and set off for the University bookshop on the far side of town. One of the best bookshops I've been in for quite a long time: independent, academic bookshop - I spent quite a long time there! And then in the secondhand bookshop up the road which is nicely crammed with al sorts of books from the interesting to the ones you wonder why anyone would ever write, publish or read
Then I crossed over to the university (University of Otago: New Zealand's oldest and one of the best) and did the self-guided walk in a leaflet picked up at the tourist information centre. Some of the buildings are quite impressive: bluestone with white stone edgings in mock gothic Victorian OTT style.
The highlight of the day, though, was the Twilight Wildlife Tour, which actually started at 3pm. There were just 3 of us on the tour: me and a retired Canadian couple and we headed up the Otago peninsula on the high road, with great views over the beaches south of Dunedin (until it started hailing, when the views unsurprisingly vanished). First stop was a place with lots of wading birds; not really my thing but quite interesting to have names put to the shapes. Next stop was the Royal Albatross Colony at the tip of the peninsula. There I looked around the exhibition about them and watched as the royal albatrosses flew about in the wind above the headland. They are huge: wingspan over 3m and seeing them above seagulls is quite entertaining. They also don't flap their wings: just glide and adjust the shape so they go up, down or sideways as required. It is nesting season and the eggs are about to hatch...
Then it was off to the yellow-eyed penguin reserve for an hour and a half of penguin watching from hides, trenches and other concealed places. We also saw NZ fur seals on the rocks and a couple of little penguins in their nesting boxes. The yellow-eyed enguins were lovely: the chicks were huge but still fluffy either all over or on part of their heads (depending on age). We saw the adults come over the beach, up through the dunes, crossing the roads and even feeding the chicks: sicking up bits of fish (yummy).
By that time it was evening and we returned to the city knackered but satisfied.
This morning I went to the Cadbury's chocolate factory in Dunedin where they do a guided tour and give you lots of chocolate (and no, I've not been to Cadbury World at Birmingham but the people on my tour who had said that this was better). We saw chocolate buttons, chocolate bars and Easter eggs being made and the smell was fantastic! I have bought samples of the varieties which are only made in New Zealand to bring home. Let me know if you want anything particular...
Then I went & climbed up Baldwin Street: the world's steepest street. Because it was there. It is steeper than 1 in 3 and quite an effort to get to the top of. But the views are nice & I now have a certificate. To relax I had lunch at thBotanic Gardens - some of the best I've seen anywhere: big and with a lovely rose garden full of ones that actually smell nice!!
Dunedin was founded by the Scots and is supposed to be "The Edinburgh of the Southern Hemisphere". I find the outskirts more like Newport (because of being built on steep hills), and the centre while nice is not too much like Edinburgh, despite the presence of Princes Street and other identical street names.
Leaving Dunedin tomorrow to head north. Ferry to the North Island on Wednesday (25th).