19 April 2016
The road to Dunedin consisted of pasture land, cows, sheep, deer, and more of the same. We arrived in Dunedin without taking a single picture. We drove from the west coast to the east along State Highway 94 to Highway 1. About midway in our trip Highway 94 runs between the towns of Gore and Clinton. We saw a sign shortly after passing through Gore that marked this section of the road as the Presidential Highway. Pretty funny!
The following day, we took a railway/bus tour of Taieri Gorge and the Otago Peninsula. The driver picked us up at our hotel and told us we only two on the bus tour for the day – we would have him all to ourselves!
The Dunedin train station is really beautiful. Construction of the station was completed in 1906 and was once a busy place for commercial and industrial transport. Now it is only used for the sightseeing tours. The interior looks very art deco.
The train itself is very cool, the car we were in was built in 1934 as a replica of a 1907 design. The inside of the car was all polished wood and the carpet was vintage looking. The seats and the table were more modern but it still had a vintage feeling. The train winds through the steep beautiful gorge stopping once or twice along the way. It was a four hour trip reversing back through the same track.
Our driver Chris fetched us from the station and took us on a site seeing tour of the Otago Peninsula. We visited a shallow water area where there are a number of bird species. This area is loaded with small blue crabs and cockles. He told us about the Bluff Oysters from the area that are in season now. I wanted to try them so on the way back to the hotel he took us to a wonderful fish monger where I was able to get a small container. Lynnette wouldn’t try them, said they looked like snot. I say they are wonderful, like a clean bright breath of fresh salty sea air! We made several stops to take photos during our outing with Chris. It was a very good day.
The sea lions in New Zealand are one of the rarest species and only found in the Otago and Southland areas. Their numbers are declining because their breeding cycle in Antarctica coincides with the squid fishing season. The trawling method used snags pregnant females killing the mother and her unborn cub. They are quite docile and did not pay us much mind as long as we kept our distance.
Chris has a very strong Scottish accent but was born in New Zealand. Scottish migration to New Zealand dates back to the earliest European colonization. There are many Scottish named cities and Dunedin has named it’s streets after those in Edinburgh. The Scottish colonists formed societies to preserve their culture and you find many Scottish accents on the South Island in particular.
We ended the evening by walking a few blocks to a fish shop. We had dinner and walked back to the hotel in a misty rain. Dunedin is a college town, and there were many young people out and about. The University of Otago at Dunedin is New Zealand’s oldest university and is well renowned for the quality of research that is done here and it is quite beautiful as well.