Albatross and Bagpipes

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February 14th 2014
Published: June 21st 2017
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Geo: -45.8746, 170.503

We left Te Anau early - 7.30am- to get to Invergargill for breakfast. It was an easy drive with almost no traffic this far south, passing farms and tiny villages and hillsides lit up by the sun in the early morning, which soon faded as we approached a rather dreary Invergargill- so like Scotland. The next stage of the drive took us through the Catlins- rugged coastal scenery with wonderful sandy beaches, but not the weather to attract a long stop over. Fortunately we found some petrol at the Information- Site to get us to Dunedin.

We had one great ambition in Dunedin, to visit the Royal Albatross Centre to see Albatross with their chicks and to see them flying. There were 5 nesting Albatross clearly visible from the viewing centre and when they stood the chicks, about 4 weeks old, could also be seen. But the most impressive part was the flying. They were perched on the top of the cliffs of the Otago Peninsular, a good 40 mins drive along a windy coast road from the town centre. It was a beautiful, sunny, windy evening with the sun setting and the sea whipping up and they were clearly out having fun soaring through the sky and zooming past the viewing platform, generally much too quickly to get any kind of photo.

That was the evening of our arrival. Next morning we went into town to see some of the sights - the splendid railway station which sadly only has tourist excursion trains now (but which did have a good market), the steepest street in the world (according to Guinnes Book of Records) but you aren't allowed to drive up it - but we also discovered there was a bagpipe band competition taking place in the Octagon, town centre, with entrants from all over southern South Island, so we stood and watched and listened as several of the bands, paraded past resplendent in their kilts and tartan. Dunedin was constructed to immitate Edinburgh, with the first University in NZ and now a student destination, and more early settlers than anywhere else in South Island. Many were rigged Scots who survived the long and dangerous sea voyage and set about to fell trees, clear land for farming and make a living from gold if they were lucky or timber, sheep and laterly dairy farming. It seemed to be a city with a buzz which is more than can be said for sad, deserted Christchurch.

And then on again to Akaroa just outside Christchurch.

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