I woke quite groggy (must have been the lack of wine or any alcohol!) to a magnificent morning. As a night cap to myself and a source of exercise/weight loss I walked around at a lick to give myself some fresh air and to tire myself out. It did not work...finally got off at 2.00
I must say I had some curiousity re Alans suggestions and headed off for Baldwin Street, the "steepest street in the world". Ok I will give him this one... it bloody well is incredible!. I though Patricks Hill was bad, but here you would get a full weekly workout by just heading to the shop for milk.!! All the folk I saw had buns of steel that they would be able to crack walnuts between their cheeks! From there, I drove up to Signal Hill Road to the lookout over Dunedin. One thing I find really strange in a country that has so many natural disasters like volcanos and earth quakes is why do they build houses clinging to the sides of VERY steep hills?
I decided that Alan obviously knew what he was on about so headed off then to the railway station and added a few dozen pics to the 2500 I already have. Beautiful old buliding but the bus load of eldery British that that parked right in front of the building did not help my humour! I had to stay another 15 mins till they and the bus disappeared to get better shots!
Decided to get out of the city and try and get to see some penguins, sea lions or albatross and where best to do it but Otago Peninsula. This is the most incredible land mass south of Dunedin and about 26km long with the road that goes right by the side of the water passing places like Dublin Bay, Broad bay, Company Bay and eventually leading up to a place called Taiaroa Head. You have to keep your wits about you on this drive though as there is no barrier and one slip up or sneeze and you are in the briney!! Incredible drive though. I got to the top and the place called Royal Albatross Nature reserve. On the way there, I tuned into my fav talk show host Michael..not Lord but I think Lars or maybe Laws! Anyhow its difficult to understand the kiwi accent at times. They were still on about gun laws and were discussing the banning of the game of cowboys and indians in kindergarden schools. A lovely lady called Mary rang up to discuss it from the kindergarden teachers point of view. Anyhow the bould Michael told her what she was saying was load of and I quote "bollix" and promptly cut her off. Somuch for freedom of speech. Not only that but he then commented further that having teachers like her taking over the parenting role and not sticking to her bloody job of teaching would be the down fall of many of the future generations to come. Marys credibility was shot to hell! Id say she booked striaght in for therapy after the call. This guy Michael is an ex politico and was the Lord Mayor of some big city at one stage but that does not excuse the fact that he is one of the most obnoxious people I have ever heard on the airwaves...Come back Neil P 96FM ... you are a pussy cat in comparison!
Anyhow, I reluctantly left the car to head into the Royal Albatross Nature reserve. Now those of you who know me, know I dont have the slightest idea about birds and in particular the feathered variety so I decided to pay my $45 dollars and get an education! On the Otago peninsula, NZ, has the biggest and only land colony of Albatross in the world so the money would be well spent for something unique!. I was joined in the touring party by some very enthusiastic birdwatching fraternity with huge lensed cameras. In the intro movie which was honestly fascinating, one of the crew had to take a few puffs of her inhaler as she announced to everyone she had I quote " terrible asthma"! She was also the crankiest of the group. She had a large knapsack and when the lovely Lillian (tour guide) asked us to hike the 3 mins up to the observatory then she nearly had heart failure and instantly started bitching.Did she think they would bring the birds to her or what?. She puffed and wheezed her way to the half way mark and had to take a rest! The rest of the group who were mainly the blue rinse elderly brigade were all knacked by the time we did reach the very well appointed hut which composed of a tiered standing area, with windows to the front for the best viewing. This hut was literally three mins or 200metres from the main building.. I knew the observation time would be comical by the initial interaction with the group. The weight of some of the cameras was enough to requiring the hiring of a pack horse and sherpa to go with it!
We got to the hut and it was fantasitc. Three, two month old Albatross chicks were just below the windows of the hut waiting for their parents to come back and feed them which could be once a day. Now one thing to explain is that the parents grow up to a metre long and a wing span of 3 metres. They are huge. The chicks get to 12 kg in three months so they are no mean birdies to be tackling!
The lovely crew were initially oohing and ahhing at the chicks when Ms Wheezy started bitching that the chicks were not looking in her direction when she was trying to take a battery of pics with the longest lens I have ever seen. No wonder she was wheezing with the weight of the fecking equipment on her back! Someone commented on the length of the lens and she quipped " it took an awful amount of night duty to pay for this"!, I wondered what type of "night duty " it was, but refused to stir it.. at this stage anyhow!Anyhow that was the start of the whinging.. " why cant you just cut that bush next to the nest so that the paying public could get a better view?" was another comment. She then wanted to go outside. Lillian the really patient guide nicely told her that she was damn lucky to get to look at them from the hut and through the windows.. Oh yeah that was another thing. Cause Ms Wheezy was so small, she could not see properly out the windows and they had to get a stool for her to step on!! When the chick eventually obliged and looked around, I could hear her finger hitting the shutter of her camera like a machgine gun. She calmed down and one of the others took over the baton. It was Sue, the nice suburban permed haired septagenarian from Sydney. An Albatross parent was just landing to feed its chick when she was trying to get her zoom lens into focus. All I can say is that Ms Nova Scotia from Slope Point lost her recent title of Curser of NZ when this woman did not manage to get a full focus action pic of mummy or daddy albatross!.
"S**t, Bugg*r, B**tch, F**king bastar* she shouted in quick succession at the bird that was appearaing without doing the proper thing of notifying her in advance so that she cold have her lens at the ready!!
It was hilarious.. . I decided to stir it a bit and told Sue she had offended my ears greatly and that she would spend six months in confession repenting for that outburst. She did not give a damn and when the stupid bird swooped back over for another attempt at landing another litany of one worded profanities escaped her lips directed at me cause I had distracted her!!! She then glares at me and says" Right ho Mr Smart arse outta my way and keep an eye out for the bugger" So much for her love or nature.. NOT..She was def determined to get her photo shot and value for money! I was gonna ask her if she wanted to take home some Albatross pie to ensure she got all her monies worth but declined luckily. I threw a few more comments in before running outta the hut but firstly thanked Lillian for the great tour and then sympathised with her in a loud enough voice (so that Sue and Wheezy could hear) that she was one hell of a patient woman and that she deserved cannonisation for putting up with this crap! She does the tour 4 times daily! Note to brain be very wary of birdwatchers in future. They are a foul mouthed bad tempered bunch!
After my escape from the Royal Albatross Santuary, I checked the map and saw that there were several other bays on the southern side of the peninsula with promises of penguins etc. I saw a place on the map called Sandymount point and headed towards there for a hike. It was incredible with deserted sandy beaches on view below with the sea, estuaries peninsulas all stretching out below me. I hiked to the Chasm... 230 metres deep with a huge sea arch and Lovers Leap about 200metres deep, really impressive drops that in any other country would have busloads of people queueing up to have a gawk. I met one person in a hike of 60 mins! When I got back to the car I sat out in my shorts and shirtless while I watched hangliders soar just above me over in the clearest blue sky. It was magic. Left the place reluctantly at 5.30 as I knew I had no bed booked and needed to get up nearer Christchurch or Thursday would be a rush. Dunedin looked amazing in the sun and all I can say is that its location is amazing...... well in sunshine anyhow. I also had another first.. my first time in KFC giving myself indigestion from the 6 large pieces of chicken. How is it so cheap or why do they give so much? Maybe it was not chicken at all? Hmmmm.. they said they were missing some birds in the Royal Reserve! Park that one Mul!
Incredible sunset again and just as I was trying to find my backpackers Olive Grove Lodge in Waianakarua I stumbled across Moeraki Beach which has the infamous completely spherical large boulders strewn on a part of the beautiful beach! This was def a treat as I got there just at sun down and very few others around! Major bonus! Arrived at the hostel at 8 and what a better treat..€20 for a very comfy pvt room with hot water bottle on a beautiful organic farm.. I wonder do they do Albatross?!