A Weekend in Dunedin
A small update this one, I suspect.
At the start of Winter in 2013, Andy had a work conference to attend down in Dunedin. The conference was on Thursday/Friday and Andy decided that as he was already down there, he may as well pay the extra to stay over the weekend and have a look around the town.
Andy stayed at a lovely hotel, not far uphill from the Octagon (the centre of Dunedin). The hotel, called "The Brothers" had their own version of happy hour at 5pm where the owner gave each customer a glass of wine or two - which was a nice little bonus. Anyway, Andy had a walk around town on the Friday night. This in itself isn't particularly blog-worthy news, but on the way back from having a look at Dunedin's beautiful old railway station, Andy saw a car which had been parked in an art gallery. After asking a couple of bystanders what exactly had happened, it turned out the guy had lost control at an intersection, tried to correct a spin that his car had gone into and ended up reversing through the front window of the art gallery. To be honest, it looked a bit as if the car had ended up as a Turner Prize winning art exhibition as the car seemed to have left all of the art unscathed, and had just taken out from front door and window of the gallery. Clearly, not much happens in Dunedin of a Friday night, as the car crash gained a few column inches in Otago Daily Times the next day.
On the Saturday, Andy hired a car and drove out to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary - a fenced off mainland "ecological island". The fence keeps predators out and allows the native wildlife inside the fence to thrive. A bit like Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellington, but a little bit less mature. Orokunui had plenty of grassland but very few mature native trees. As such, Orokonui is an ecosanctuary under development. There aren't that many tracks as things stand, and reintroductions of native wildlife have been kept to a minimum whilst the plant life recovers. However, the sanctuary does have a few Kaka, plenty of Bellbirds and Tui and even a couple of Takahe wandering around. It was certainly well worth a visit though.
From Orokonui, Andy took a pleasant drive round the coast through Port Chalmers, back into Dunedin and then up the winding road of the Otago Peninsula to the Royal Albatross Sanctuary at the tip of the peninsula. Andy arrived there just in time for the last tour of the day and was able to see some Royal Albatross chicks resting on their nests. It was a scenic drive back along the ridge line over the top of the peninsular, back into Dunedin.
The next day was fairly quiet. Andy walked around Dunedin, spending some time wandering through the Botanical Gardens before heading back to the city centre to join in on a tour of the Speight's (Dunedin and Otago's most famous beer) brewery. Sadly, the brewery was undergoing a substantial facelift, some of the work was due to the need for earthquake strengthening (certainly something which is happening a lot these days, following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2011/12) and some of the work was due to a need to expand the Dunedin brewery to accommodate the brewing that used to be done in Christchurch. The brewer, Lion Nathan, had their brewery in Christchurch destroyed in the earthquakes.
Left: A Tui drinking nectar from a drinking bottle type feeder
at Orokonui Ecosanctuary. The Tui feeds on nectar from flowers and
numbers of them surrounded these sugar-water feeders at the sanctuary.
You can just about see its tongue sticking out.
Top Right: A bellbird sitting on a branch in the sanctuary.
Right: When the larger Tuis weren't surrounding the feeders, then the bellbirds would be all over them - as shown in this picture. Occasionally, a single bellbird would try and dominate the others and chase them away, but would eventually be muscled out by the masses. However, as soon as a Tui came in to feed, then the bellbirds would scatter. Interestingly, all the bellbirds feeding from the sugar water feeders were males. The females look a more dowdy buff/beige sort of colour.
Bottom Left: A parent albatross looking to take off from Taiaroa Head at the tip of the Otago Peninsula. The bird was more than a little ungainly running along the grassy slope trying to get lift from his wings.
Bottom Right: An albatross chick nestled down in the long grass on the Head. The albatross is a long-lived bird and will remain a chick/fledgling for about a 9 months before they will finally fly off and not return to land for several years. When they do eventually return, they inevitably crash land.
The sun starting to set behind the hills around Aramoana on the
opposite side of Otago Harbour from the peninsula.
Bottom Left: A view of Dunedin taken from the balcony of the Brothers Hotel with the Otago Peninsula in the background.
Bottom Right: A Kaka chewing down on a log at the Botanical Gardens.