Saturday, June 03, 2006

Dialing it down in Dunedin

(An entry from a couple of weeks ago...)

Since we weren't able to make it to the UK to visit Scotland, we decided to do the next best thing. Here in New Zealand we have come to Dunedin, a university town near the bottom of the south island settled by the Scots. The word Dunedin is Celtic for Edinburgh, there's even a statue of good awld Robbie Burns in the main square, and the street names could be straight from the old country: Princes, George, Stuart, etc.

Dunedin is also the home of some very close friends of ours who moved down here seven years ago to teach at the University and build their careers (his in music performance, hers in midwifery). We've missed them terribly and this was a fantastic chance for Mom and I to catch up on their lives and introduce Brian. And we all fell head over heels in love with their remarkably precocious son, Isaac (or Izy).

In addition to a lot of fun family time, this was a great couple of days to get out and see some beautiful countryside. Dunedin sits in a harbor (or super long inlet) with a long, narrow, very hilly pennisula heading out from it. At the end of the penninsula is the very fine Royal Albatross Center, the only nesting site of Royal Albatrosses on a mainland (instead of the less accessible islands they usually call home). Albatrosses were some of our favorite birds during a previous trip to the Galapagos and Mom and I were eager to see some more. Unfortunately, the only albatross around was a lone chick waiting for his parents to return in the next couple of days for a feeding. From where we stood in the observatory, he just looked like a big pile of rags blowing in the (very strong) wind. Sigh. However the Center had a fascinating series of exhibits down in the main hall and was still very much worth the visit. (And I did have the chance to try my first meat pie!)

And besides, the day was not a total loss wildlife-wise. My own intrepid wildlife hunter husband managed to track down the elusive wild NZ sheep. :-)

There are a number of great walks around Dundedin, with spectacular views of the coastline and challenging hills to climb. However because of the rainy weather (and our infatuation with Izy) we unfortunately were only able to take advantage of a few of them. We also took a day to drive the 3 hours back to Wanaka to share the place with Mom. We really wanted her to be able to see this area that we had just fallen in love with.

Once there we stopped by Blue Water Lodge to introduce her to Doug and Dianne and enjoy one more of Dianne's yummy teas. To top it off, we marched Mom up the steep Mount Iron climb to enjoy the 360 views around the area. We are so impressed by how much stronger her leg as gotten. It's just wonderful to see her out striding through all sorts of difficult terrain. Here's to being a survivor!

Dunedin was our farewell to the South Island, after a comprehensive tour including Christchurch, Greymouth, the West Coast, the southern Alps, the central mountain region (Queenstown and Wanaka), and Fiordland (Te Anu and Milford Sound). We were very sad and reluctant to leave. This is an absolutely beautiful place where we could spend much, much more time. The roads are easy to travel and well signed, the infrastructure is incredibly supportive of outdoor activities, the people are friendly, and the landscape is gorgeous. We highly recommend it to any folks considering coming and would be happy to offer any suggestions or ideas.

From here it's off to the North Island! More to come.....



Anonymous said...

Hi Guys. Thanks for the good commentary about the South Island. It looks great, but the water appears to be a bit cool for swimming. Yes I know it's winter, but still...

I'm looking forward to the North Island. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

maybe you could run an inn of sorts. i'd be sure to visit!

everything looks so gorgeous, and what a lovely time you're having. take care,