Day 32 Feb 5 (Dunedin, NZ)

Breakfast in the room 8:30 Excursion to the Otago Peninsula. I know, the what? Dunedin harbor is an extremely deep narrow one bordered on the south by a very long, pretty narrow peninsula. Today we board a bus on the north side of the harbor and travel through Dunedin and around the end of the harbor to the south side and the Otago Peninsula. The object of our trip is the penguins and albatrosses. We go first to the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve. There are only about 4000 of these critters in the world and about 50 of them live here on the tip of the peninsula. They have a network of covered trenches and lookouts for the science observers (and fortunately for the public) to observe the penguins without disturbing them unduly.

It works! I have photos of several young ones. The adults are all off in search of food. They apparently will travel 10 miles or more in the ocean feeding before returning to the chicks. The chicks are at the stage where they no longer need the adult sitting on them for warmth. In fact the chicks are actually bigger than the adults. This will change before long and they will get their adult plumage and go off on their own to the sea. They get their yellow eye stripes at about 12 months. All very interesting. There was actually one chick about two feet from my face. This one had taken up a position near one of the observation trenches and was actually eyeballing us as we went through. Curious critter. Hopefully they will fight back from the endangered list and keep the species with us for our descendants to appreciate.

From the Penguin Reserve it was a short drive to the Royal Albatross Centre. (The albatross are Royal, not the Centre) Here we not only got to see the only nesting site of albatross on inhabited land (or something like that) but we also got to see a "disappearing gun". No, the albatross don't own it. It is left over from war years. This gun is hidden in the top of the hill and can be cranked up into position to bear on shipping in the harbor entrance area. When it fires it recoils back down into the hidey hole. They say it can cycle fire in about a minute. It was never used in wartime but nevertheless is a part of island history so we toured it on the way to the albatross. Like the penguins, the adult albatross were all out feeding. The chicks were resting and preening and waiting for food. Cute. I have some pics.

Next we headed back toward Dunedin a bit to a place called Glenfalloch Woodland Gardens. We had lunch there. The flowers were tasty. OK, just kidding. We had a buffet lunch which was tasty but there was nary a flower to eat anywhere. It was a beautiful setting for the lunch. Plants seem to grow well in wet climates. That is something I forget in El Paso from time to time.

After lunch we go to Larnach Castle. It isn't really a castle (hmmm... An albatross colony with a "disappearing gun", lunch in a garden and a castle which isn't a castle....). It is really more of a really fancy manor house with amazing views and pretty nice gardens too.

The final stop on the way back to the ship is at the Dunedin Rail Road Station. It contains some beautiful tile work and the front was recently remodeled. Quite a beautiful station for such a small town on an out of the way island! Reminiscent in overall design of the station in Amsterdam but much smaller. Oh, it is right across the street from the Cadbury factory which we don't have time to visit (alas!).

Back to the ship about nine hours after leaving for dinner with a Mardi Gras theme. All the staff dressed in costumes and there were feathery masks on our dining tables for the ladies. They had really decorated the dining room with many purple, green and gold balloons and tiny lights and colored drapes. Quite an effort! The staff waited for most of us to be seated and then put on a parade including "cymbals" made from the stainless steel warming covers used on our meals. Pretty colorful and we all applauded the effort they made.

Watched the movie, "Johnny Blaze". Not one of Nicolas Cage's best efforts. Well, his effort wasn't bad but the picture does stretch the imagination.

No comments: