Edinburgh of the South (?)

Trip Start Oct 01, 2008
Trip End Nov 16, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Sunday, November 9, 2008

We arrived in Dunedin (pop. 130000) at 4pm on Sunday and a quick visit to the iSite had us accommodated in a dodgy motel (rooms great, rest of the building, very weird). We had a bit of a hike around the deserted streets (I assume there had been a leakage of something very toxic and the populous had been advised to evacuate or stay indoors), looking for somewhere to eat, discovered that the Lonely Planet's favourite restaurant has closed down (most dissatisfying), and ate at a mexican place next door, where the only other diners were two English girls travelling the world.

Dunedin is very weird, they pride themselves on being the scottish enclave of NZ, they even have a Scottish shop selling tartan, kilts, shortbread, whisky, etc. It also has a now derelict port/harbour. So I suppose in a way it is a pretty accurate reflection of Edinburgh.

We drove out to the world's steepest street, Baldwin St. Which climbs 46 metres at an incline of 1 in 3.4 (or something like that), dropped into the botanical gardens, so Ellie could scope out the competition for RBG in Kew, ran around the Otaga musuem looking at extinct birds and visited the railway station, apparently the most photographed building in New Zealand (and on a world scale comparable to the Taj Mahal!!!!). What I want to know is who measured "the most photographed" and how? If I were to take like 5 million photos of Richmond Train Station would that register on the list, I don't think so.

Over lunch we managed to lose the postcards we had written addresses and stamped, so if you don't get a postcard its either because we didn't get one for you or they got binned at Cafe Mash in Dunedin. If you do get a postcard from us then its due to the nicer than nice NZ people who find a stack of postcards on a vacated cafe table and post them rather than bin them. Its really a psychological test of the Kiwis. Will they pass?

The afternoon/evening we had a trip out to the Otago peninsula to view some local wildlife. After some considerable toing and froing with tourists not knowing what they were doing, where they were supposed to be, etc. we arrived out on the peninsula and transferred to a boat to view some Northern Royal Albatross as they courted and prepared for a bit of hows-yer-father. The albatross, though not the biggest of the breed is still pretty enormous, wingspan of 3.3m weighing upto 8 kg. We saw 3 or 4 in the air and several on the clifftop. Very impressive. Also saw some little blue penguins around the boat, a couple of sealions, and ofcourse the everpresent fur seals.

Back to port and we drove over the headland to a private farm and hike down to a seal hide (now getting pretty bored of seals), and then back around to a beach where the sealions hang out, sleeping, belching, farting and shitting during the day before they go out fishing in the evening. 

The highlight of the trip was watching the yellow eyed penguins (the world's least numerous) come ashore following their daily fishing trips. Very cute.

A late arrival back in Dunedin meant that most of the restaurants had closed and we had to have stonegrill at a Speights Ale house (basically they bring you a superheated block of granite and the raw meat of your choosing and you cook it yourself on the rock), this was not quite what Ellie wanted from an evening dining experience.
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