Sunday, April 24, 2011

South Island, cont'd Blenheim to Dunedin

Yikes!  April is almost over and I'm still catching up on March! Doh!

From Blenheim, we drove inland to Hanmar Springs, a hot springs town in the foothills.  It was balmy early fall weather.  We had a good time bathing in the town pools.  Most of the pools were just normal, though overheated swimming pools.  We had a nice cabin on a hillside.  The proprietor gave us tomatoes from his garden.  We had a pleasant BBQ dinner and watched the first Lord of the Rings movie.

Next day we drove south to Kaikoura, on the coast, for some kind of birdwatching.  I forget what.  We had a really nice 2 bedroom unit in a "holiday park", which is a trailer campground and motel.  It had TV!!! which was crucial because the Japan earthquake and tsunami had just happened and we were riveted to the unfolding disaster.

For a more trivial disaster, while cooking dinner, I set off the fire alarm.  It's very loud and broadcasts over the whole property, and cannot easily turned off.   We had to find one of the maintenance people to turn it off.  Susie spent the kids' inheritance on some crayfish (jumbo lobsters) and we had a fabulous meal.

Next stop, Oamaru (more birdwatching, penguins this time.  Sorry, no photos.  Maybe Susie has some).  We stayed at another fine holiday park.  The town has a unique older section with beautiful limestone fronted buildings in an artsy district.

Cool Art Car in Oamaru
On to the Otago Peninsula (the very south end of South Island), for guess what!  No not penguins this time, albatrosses.  At the far end of the peninsula, a spectacular ocean bluff, are the albatross nesting grounds and a fine visitor center with cafe.  It was a beautiful spot and the weather was fine, sunny and breezy.  Susie found us a quaint backpackers (budget) cabin over looking the bay.  Of special interest was the miniature railway.  The engine and cars were former mining equipment.   The owner said he had helped build the Driving Creek RR we rode at Coromandel.

After a couple nights, Susie and Charlie had a flight from Dunedin to Auckland to Seattle.  Together, we toured Dunedin, which is a charming university town.  We spent several hours at the wonderful Dunedin museum (and cafe).  They have great geological, wildlife and south pacific peoples exhibits.

No comments:

Post a Comment