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13th Mar 2011 – Wildlife Spotting, Beach Discovering and Proper Prior Preparation

March 13, 2011

Sandfly Bay - Good for spotting Yellow-eyed penguins in the evening

I hadn’t been sure about spending a long period of time in the Dunedin area because I’d passed through the area on a road-trip two years ago and hadn’t been particularly inspired. Now, having spent nearly three weeks there I have done a complete U-turn. The sun shining for almost the entire duration of the stay certainly helped shed a different light on the scenery!

After Dagmar was out of hospital we found a lovely place to couchsurf out on the Otago Peninsula. This strip of land is a short drive out of Dunedin and is well known for its wildlife. We managed to see albatross and yellow eyed penguins and I enjoyed cycling along the summit road with its gorgeous views of sand dunes and turquoise sea water. After spending some lovely days with these great views and friendly hosts we moved further towards the city but still close to the coast. Each day we found a new beach to do a short walk to help Dagmar get strong again. Soon she felt strong enough to go further afield and so we drove north to see the amazingly round Moeraki Boulders and the blue eyed penguins at Oamaru. A little inland from there is an area that is well known for its fossils and curious limestone rock formations. One of the places is called Earthquakes because the original settlers thought that the striking limestone ridges had been formed by seismic action, but later analysis concluded that they had been formed as a result of landslides. Not quite so dramatic, but it’s an interesting name nonetheless!

Blackhead Beach - good for surfers and sunsets

Dagmar and I returned to Wanaka after her two-week check up at the hospital where they checked that the pins and rods are in the correct place to allow her broken vertebrae to heal. We are staying in an interesting house built of pine, with cathedral-style roof spaces, which makes for a characterful interior but the wood creaks loudly when the sun goes down in the evening and comes up in the morning as it shrinks and expands! The house is just a short walk to the lake which is lovely and clear and when the wind is low it is gorgeous to swim in. It is a little on the cold side though, being as the water does come from the glaciers of the nearby Mt Aspiring National Park, so mid-afternoon is the best time to enjoy the water when the sun has warmed the surface up a little!

I was here when I heard the shocking news of Christchurch’s second major aftershock since the original September 4th earthquake. Unfortunately, this one was much more devastating, causing large loss of life because it struck at lunchtime and shook the central business district badly. Many people became trapped in collapsed buildings and it was not possible to rescue them all. This has families displaced, people grieving, unemployed, traumatised and uncertain of what to do about their future. Thankfully all of the people I know were safe, though some sustained injuries while fleeing from buildings. I was particularly shocked because I’d felt the quake over 250 miles away and not heard until later that what I’d felt was the effect of the larger quake from further away. Also, we nearly went to Christchurch for the duration of Dagmar’s rehabilitation because I knew so many people there but thankfully we decided on Wanaka. Instead, one of my friends from Christchurch came to visit us here for a bit to get away from the ongoing aftershocks and noise of sirens and tanks as the clean up is under way.

Elation at reaching the summit of McPhies Ridge in the Lindis region

I’ve used time here to get some ideas of places I want to visit along my cycle north, get the equipment that I need and make the sure the bicycle is working as well as work on my fitness. The next blogs will return to adventures on two-wheels, though now it is officially three including my one-wheeled trailer!

For more photos click here:New Zealand Penguins, posing and playing

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