21.02.2014 - 23.02.2014
We have uploaded more photos from the last few days.
We set off from Lake Tekapo in lovely sunshine and had a great drive through the hills on very quiet roads, save for a charity cycle ride coming from the opposite direction. We also had great views of Mount Cook across a lake. But as we got to Dunedin the skies clouded and by the time we were walking to the beach, it was raining. We decided to go out for a meal and chose a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. Getting there involved a bus (no problem) and then a walk through a traffic interchange and into the docks area (big problem - it was windy, a bit wet and a bit on the seedy side). Finally we arrived at Plato, housed in a corner of the Seaman's Mission. Most peculiar place but very busy (thanks to Lonely Planet!) served excellent fresh fish dishes and so I suppose, it was worth it in the end but I was not seeing the best side of Dunedin! (Christine here) ......Frank thought it was quirky and interesting.
Today, however we woke to sunshine and took a drive down the Otago Peninsular to an albatross colony. We were very lucky to get the last two places on a little tour and then a view of the nesting birds and also some juveniles flying around and strutting about on the hillside. This is the only colony of albatross on mainland NZ and in fact one of the few places on the planet where you can see them without venturing on to remote rocky outcrops in the middle of the ocean. It seems to be a well established colony of over 80 birds. They mate for life and produce one egg every 2 years. Once the chick is fledged it simply jumps off the cliff face and does not return to land for 6 years when it returns to the same site to find a lifelong mate. They have a wingspan of 3 metres and weigh about 10 kilos. They glide effortlessly on the wind but are very awkward on land. It was fantastic to see them so close and flying on a sunny day in a fresh wind.
In the afternoon we had booked a train ride up the Taieri Gorge from Dunedin. It was a 4 hour round trip up a steep sided gorge on a lovely old train. The line is operated by a charity these days and is not part of the national rail system and was constructed in late 19th century. It was constructed to get farm produce down from the hinterland to the port at Dunedin but it must have been an expensive and risky venture and was subject to much criticism at the time on grounds of cost. However from a tourism point of view it's now a great asset and quite an amazing journey with great views and some scary drops down to the river. Christine chose not to look down at these sections!
Well that's all for now we hope you enjoy our little diary. We are off to Queenstown tomorrow.