Monday, January 14, 2013

Dunedin - Second Stop 1/14/2012

At this point we feel like we should be characters in Richard Scary’s children’s book, Cars and Trucks and Things that Go. We have traveled on a ship and its tender, a bus, car, van, train, leisure boat and jet boat. Today, we added to this list an 8-wheel, off-road vehicle which can go to places normally inaccessible. The Otago Peninsula headland is arguably one of the most precious wildlife habitats in New Zealand and the farm owned by the Reed Family is on the forefront of this land. We received our safety instructions, were given green ponchos to protect us from the dust and give us a monochromatic image, as to not disturb the animals, boarded the vehicles and off we went. 

What fun it was to travel up and down the dirt paths and rough terrain and view this magnificent, untouched land.  Ascending from the highest point of 659 feet above sea level with its magnificent panoramas, we stopped to observe a breeding colony of New Zealand Fur seals and their pups. Jumping in and out of the water and lounging on the rocks, they paid no attention to us and were fun to watch. Next we stopped to observe Spotted Shags, found nestled on a rugged cliff face that rose directly from the Pacific Ocean and then headed to Penguin Beach where we had hoped to see a little blue or yellow-eyed penguin, but they, unfortunately were hiding in the bushes.

We could have easily continued, but others were waiting their turn, so we returned to the starting point and boarded our buses to ride  along the craggy coastline and stop to view the site of the Royal Albatross Center.  Although appearing ungainly on the ground, these birds are magnificent to watch in flight. With a wingspan of nearly ten feet, they glide smoothly and gracefully through the air.

Back in Dunedin, we passed some of the highlights of this city, which was settled by the Scottish, including the Train Station, a superb example of Victorian architecture. On our previous visit we had left the train to walk through the lobby, but now we had the chance to see the building's famous facade. Too bad we didn’t have enough time to tour the Cadbury Chocolate Factory and see the chocolate waterfall and taste the free samples. Cadbury is know for the candy it makes at Easter time, but produces other products throughout the year.

That evening as our ship left port, on one side we passed hills covered with the sheep that are so often associated with this country and on the other, the Royal Albatross Center. From the observation lounge in the front of the ship, we could see some of the birds gracefully flying in the sky, as if to wish us a speedy return to this most interesting town and country.

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