weekend saw another trip to the South Island – to the southern end this time.
Ian had to go to Dunedin on business, and he flew out Friday morning while
Sandie left on Friday evening to join him. On the flight down she was warned
that the plane might have to turn back to Wellington because of low cloud, but
eventually it touched down to everyone’s relief. The weather in Dunedin was
mixed, with a little sun on Saturday morning and rain on Sunday, but no worse
than we expected that far south at this time of year.
is a kind of miniature Edinburgh, with a lot of Scottish heritage. We visited
the Scotia bar at the railway station both nights, and this is quiet and
comfortable with a wall full of different whiskies. The station itself is an
amazing building, more like a mating between a cathedral and a laird’s castle
than anything else. We explored the city on Saturday morning, visiting the station,
a couple of churches and a mammoth secondhand book sale in the Regent theatre.
Saturday afternoon we headed along the Otago peninsula, alongside Dunedin
harbour. At the far end is a lighthouse and albatross sanctuary, but we left
the latter for another time. We did visit the Penguin Place, a private
sanctuary for the Yellow-eyed penguin, the rarest of all. A young man called
Glen took three of us rattling down the track in an old bus to the reserve, and
then told us all about the penguins and their private lives. He led us down an
intricate network of tunnels to different hides where we could watch them
trotting home after a hard day out at sea. It felt very like being in First World
War trenches, except that instead of enemy snipers we got to see some serious
evening we went to a little theatre in Dunedin to see Tennessee Williams’ play
‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. The theatre was only half full, but the production was
quite good although sometimes the southern accents slipped into a Kiwi twang.
Sunday morning we drove north up the coast in the rain to a place called
Moeraki, where the beach is littered with weird spherical boulders. They were
quite amazing, and some were split open as if they were giant alien eggs, newly
hatched. We drove back to Dunedin and said hello to the giant Moa in the museum
there, before visiting Brighton on the coast. Not much like its namesake in any
respect except for its coastal position – no facilities and hardly any buildings,
and wild southern waves beating on a sandy bay. The drive back to the airport over
the hills was rather exciting, with one of the steepest downhill roads we’ve ever
seen. We flew back to the relative civilisation of Wellington with no alarms.
Interestingly, last Thursday
we met up with one of our old neighbours. Rose left Langley 12 years ago, and returned
to New Zealand a few years later. We looked her up in the phone book and made contact,
and had a meal with her in a Chinese restaurant. Her sister-in-law is some-one Ian
knows of at the Ministry – it’s a small world, especially down here.