New Zealand: Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

As today was dry and sunny we decided to devote the day to outdoor aspects of Dunedin. There are museums and many other things to occupy rainy days. Our motel was only a mile from the Botanic Garden and having missed the one in Christchurch, we decided to head there first. They have a large collection of camellias just inside the entrance which reminded me of deciding that I had wanted a white one for our garden. I had searched dozens of specialist camellia nurseries without success and then found one quite incidentally, for only £9.95 on a visit to B&Q for something else. Needless to say, those in the garden here are not in bloom at the moment. The winter garden in the glasshouse had numerous interesting flowers.
In addition to various collections of plants and trees, including native species, there are also aviaries containing birds from all over the world. One bird I did see in the garden is the New Zealand Pigeon which is also referred to as a Wood Pigeon.
We had a coffee in the cafe here where service was amazingly slow despite there being several staff on duty. It was getting busier as today was a public holiday for the Queen’s birthday, something we do not have in the UK so it was quite bizarre to find out that both Australia and New Zealand have one.

In the afternoon we drove along the northern edge of the Otago Peninsula past several bays and as far as you can go.
There is a Royal Albatross Colony here and you can visit the centre. A few flew overhead as we were on one of the cliff overlooks.
One of the main reasons for coming out here was to visit Penguin Place. This is a private conservation reserve for the endangered Yellow-Eyed Penguin. A farming family started it and all the ticket money raised from tourists who visit for a tour and viewing goes to support the reserve and the small penguin hospital where they are rehabilitated and released into the wild again. The reserve also tries to control introduced predators such as feral cats, stoats and weasels who are a threat to the penguins. Their numbers have also declined due to habitat loss and human interference. We saw penguins in the hospital – this one with a foot injury is being fed.
In winter, the only hope of seeing a wild penguin is when they return to land from feeding in the ocean. This usually happens close to sunset. We were bussed part way to the beach and then walked through tunnels designed to hide us from any penguins on land, and down to the hides. Eventually one penguin did appear and after waiting unsuccessfully for any of his friends, walked across the beach and up the track.
Afterwards, we drove back into the city and had our evening meal in an Irish pub just down the road called ‘The Bog’. Service here wasn’t very brisk either.

A day in Dundee

We woke before it was light and so decided we would walk down to the station. There had been some sleet overnight so it was a bit slippery underfoot. At the station, James spotted a coffee place that had Lavazza so I had to have a cup. Unfortunately I spilt it soon afterwards and having found someone to clean up so that no-one slipped, I headed back for a refill and the woman gave me another for free. A great start to the day. On the train we saw the beginnings of the new Forth crossing as we passed over the rail bridge.
Forth Rail Bridge (1 of 1)
The weather forecast said it was to be dry in Dundee but as the train passed through rain and sleet and snow was visible on the hills, it was hard to believe. The River Tay was still high but had obviously been much higher recently and had left mud and pools of water everywhere. On arrival it was dry but overcast. James was keen to visit some of his old haunts so after he had orientated himself (there have been quite a few changes in the last 30 years), we walked up to the street where his old student flat was (still a student flat enclave).
Springfield (1 of 1)

We continued on to where the halls of residence were and which are now a conference centre. A coffee stop was then necessary before walking back towards town to meet a friend for lunch at the restaurant in the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre. This was somewhere I must explore further on another trip as it has exhibitions, workshops, a cinema and is a real focus for art of all kinds. We then wandered around town and then down to Captain Scott’s ship The Discovery, which has came home to Dundee in 1999. It is interesting to note that while the expedition had a scientific focus and taught us a lot about Antarctica, one of its drivers was the fact that the whaling industry in the Arctic had run out of whales and was seeking a new supply. There was an exhibition and then you can go onto the ship. I particularly liked the contrast between the ship (launched in 1901) and the construction behind it of the building to house an outpost of the V&A.
Construction of the new V&A (1 of 1)
Rigging 1 (1 of 1)
Rigging 4 (1 of 1)
Below deck I was pleased to see that marmalade was deemed an essential supply.
Supplies (1 of 1)
I also loved the penguins outside.
Penguins (1 of 1)
All too soon the sun, which had come out as forecast, was sinking beyond the railway bridge.
Tay Bridge 2 (1 of 1)
There was just enough time for a glass of wine and the newspaper before we had to head back to the station for the train back to Edinburgh.
Station (1 of 1)
We had walked 11.5 miles today so I am still on with my Lent walking pledge.