Dunedin, The World's Steepest Street, Otago Peninsula Penguin-Spotting, Sealion Dodging, Dawn Raids, Moeraki Boulders, Fleur's Place
The next day was warm and sunny and after breakfast we walked over to Baldwin St, the worlds steepest street, according to the Guiness Book of World Records anyway. It wasn't easy walking up to the top, and it was also pretty interesting to see locals using it as a kind of gym- they were running and walking up and down it!
We then wandered down to the Botanical Gardens and checked out some of the Rhododendrens and had some lunch whilst watching the militant seagulls. the in turn were watching us as they wanted our food, but there was obviously a leader in the pack and he kept bullying the other birds and chasing them away. We then went to a second hand bookshop that I had popped into during my last visit and had a lok at the most recent selection.
Late afternoon/early evening is the time to begin wildlife spotting, so we drove down to the Otago Peninsula. We parked up and walked down to the beach- past some huge intimitdating Sealions who were fighting with each other and chasing the odd passerby down the beach. We made it to the specially constructed viewing hide and sat to wait for the Yellow Eyed Penguins (also known as Hoi Ho). Almost immiediately we saw a penguin emerge from the water and then begin to scale a huge hill. Unfortunately, we were unable to take decent photos, but the penguin was jumping up the hill with ease- it was spectacular to see. Unfortuantely, that was our only sighting for the day, and we made our way back past the angry Sealions to the saftey of Boba. On the way back to our campsite we picked up a Japanese takeaway (one of the upsides of staying in a student city- cheap takeaway) and a local bottle of Pinot Noir.
We packed up our stuff in the morning, parked up Boba and spent the morning in Dunedin Public Art Gallery- fanstastic place and space. Saw some thought provoking and really interesting works by mainly NZ artists. I also spent some time in the Media area and watched a documentary called 'Dawn Raids', an account of the less appealing side of NZ. The documentary was about the govenrment and subsequnetly the plice targeting people overstaying their visas- although the majority of overstayers were Brits and Europeans, unfortunately this essentially racist peice of legilastion targeted Pacific Islanders, and some Maori (who ironically had been around long before the Brits came along). Really interesting and an insight into an topic that isn't always acknowledged in NZ.
After lunch we hit the road towards Oamaru. We stopped off at the Moeraki boulders (by the village of Moeraki) along the way, large spherical boulders that sit on the beach and are visible at low tide. We then drove into the local village, following a tip from Tom's friend and the guidebook and found a restaurant called Fleur's Place. It is apparently the best fish retaurant in NZ, so we decided to treat ourselves and had dinner. The decor was really funky and with bric-a-brac furnirute and vintage peices. I had a yummy fish pie and Ajay jad green lipped mussels. I had pulled the short straw again and was driving so Ajay had a glass of wine, but at least I got a free designated driver drink. After dinner it was almost dark and we decided to check the local yellow eyed penguin colony up the road. It was dusk and rapidly getting dark by the time we reached the hide, but within about 5 minutes we saw two penguins come ashore within minutes of each other and then waddle up the beach to their nests- amazing!
It was time to leave and find our campsite, so we drove to Gencoe, a DOC campsite and stayed there before the short drive to Oamaru in the morning.
On our first day proper in Dunedin, we started with a walk up and down Baldwin Street which is supposedly the steepest street in the world according to the Guiness Book Of Records. Don't get me wrong, it was pretty steep but I reckon we came across a few worthy challengers to its throne during our time in South America.
After working up a sweat on Baldwin Street, we wandered down to the city botanical gardens which were landscaped to perfection and well worth checking out. We had lunch here while watching a militant bird bully other birds; we also fed some ducks and saw lots of colourful rhododendrens.
We then had a quick rummage around an old but very cool secondhand bookstore before driving upto Sandy Bay on the Otago Peninsula for a bit of yellow-eyed penguin spotting. Looking out from a specially-constructed viewing hide, I felt like Bill Odie and David Attenborough but without the binoculars. I did, however, manage to spot one penguin emerge from the sea, scramble over some rocks and then, jaw-droppingly, scale the huge sloping hillside with relative ease. I didn't realise penguins were so agile - amazing! The walk back to Boba along the beach was interesting as myself and Am tried to remain conspicuous in the vicinity of some warring sea lions. In the evening we had some Japanese takeout for tea along with a bottle of Pinot Noir.
The next morning we visited Dunedin Public Art Gallery which housed many great classical and contemporary works in a number of exhibitions. I was particularly taken with a piece of work by Jeena Shin called Fractus. This was an elaborate geometric big-wall drawing built up from a beguiling set of layers and compositional structures in paint that would shift and animate in changing light.
Most of the morning was spent at the gallery; after lunch we headed on towards Oamura. Along the way we stopped to see the Moeraki boulders, a series of strange spherical solid masses sitting in the sea just off the beach.
It was early evening and we happened to be near Fleur's Place, a lovely rustic and homely restaurant with reputedly the best fish in southern New Zealand. A stop off for supper, therefore, was a no-brainer - I had green-lip mussels, Am had fish pie. Following tea we quickly checked out another yellow penguin colony but without much viewing luck and then camped at Glencoe near the town of Moeraki.