Saturday, January 10, 2009

We drove to Dunedin, it was surprisingly like driving across the prairies, except once in awhile you would see the ocean. The area we were crossing was the Canterbury Plains, with the grassy flat plains reaching right out to the Pacific Ocean. As we got closer to Dunedin the hills reappeared and it we were in the foothills. The harbour at Dunedin is very protected and the city has a beautiful setting. Once we had found a motel room we set out to visit the railway station. It was absolutely stunning. There were very small tiles set in intricate patterns throughout the lobby floor as well as stained glass windows, wrought iron railings and a beautiful circular wooden staircase. The outside had fabulous granite pillars, as well as beautiful white and black rocks shaped into an outstanding clock tower, a truly magnificent building.
We headed to the Cadbury Chocolate factory to try and get a tour but it was too late in the day. I guess the secret of how they get the caramilk in the Caramilk Bar will still be a mystery to me.
Bright and early the next day we headed off to the Royal Albatross Centre. There we were given a half hour informative lecture about the albatross and then taken up to the viewing platform. From inside the building we were treated to a wonderful display of flying by about 5 your albatrosses. There were 3 faithful fathers sitting on their nests and we had been guaranteed we would see these but the 5 young guys were an added bonus. Some people do not get to see any birds flying and these characters soared around in the air for most of the time we were there. It was fantastic. You could see them moving their feet about at slow speeds and when coming in for a landing. They have more joints in their wings than most other birds, so they have a wonderful shape to them. We had fun trying to capture them on film. I got a pretty decent video and we got some great pictures of half of an albatross. We all agreed that this was pretty much the highlight of our trip.

We headed back to the train station and went on a four hour train ride up the Tieria Gorge. The scenery was superb, there were about 8 tunnels and 6 viaducts on the rail line that was constructed by hand with pick and shovel in the 1880’s and 90’s. We relaxed and had Devonshire Tea and watched the scenery unfold as we clicked shutter after shutter on our cameras. Aren’t digital cameras wonderful!!
When we got back to town Mom took us out to a celebratory dinner as it would be our last evening. We saw her off at the Dunedin Airport at noon today after we went to the world’s steepest street and she should be winging her way east across the Pacific, after landing in Christchurch before heading to Auckland. I hope she manages to get some rest on the way home.

Barry and I continued on our way south. We are now in Invercargill the home of the World’s Fastest Indian. On our way here we drove the scenic route; we stopped to visit a lighthouse, a waterfall and the most southern point on the South Island. Once again we were treated to some fantastic scenery and I loved the sign that was posted at Slope Point. I had not realized we were as far as 46 degrees South.
We are once again touring on a cruisers budget so instead of a snazzy motel with beds, a sitting area and kitchen complete with fridge, microwave, stove, dishes and utensils we are in a backpackers room which just has a bed and some end tables. We use a communal bathroom and there are no towels. Well at least there are sheets. Not sure what we will do tomorrow but we will head from here to Queenstown and then up the west coast. There should be some more great scenery as head through the mountains.