Sunday, February 01, 2009

South Island Road Trip - Chapter Three

Possums, Pampas grass and Penguins
Pampas grass
Penguin - gotta look closely to see this yellow eyed penguin in the grass

What do they have in common? They are all found in New Zealand and we’ve seen them all! OK, well, we’ve yet to see a live possum outside the zoo but we see them squashed on the road all the time, too numerous to count. Possums are a pest here in New Zealand as they steal the eggs of the kiwi bird; therefore, it is always open season on Possums and their fur is used in combination with the, very soft, merino wool to make luxuriously soft garment and scarves.

We only spent one afternoon and night in Dunnedin, New Zealand’s Scottish city, but we sure made the most of it. We went for an afternoon tour of the Cadbury Chocolate factory which was ‘sweet as..’ as they say in NZ. Unfortunately, we were unable to take our cameras inside the factory where Cadbury employs over 900 people, but we took some cute pics outside.

That's a huge pile of Crunchy bars behind the sign.

The girls with Cadbury's Model A Ford

Before we were permitted entry into the factory we were required to don hairnets, very sexy!

The Cadbury factory supplies most of the chocolate for New Zealand as well as some for export to Australia and some Asian countries as well.

In the evening, on the advise of our hotel manager, we took off to Sandfly Bay to see if we would be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the rare yellow eyed penguins that inhabit the South island of New Zealand. After a slippery walk down the soft warm sand on the sand dune surrounding the beach, we walked to the opposite end of the shore and climbed the berm to the official ‘hide’, a small shack where we would sit quietly, watch and wait. Jenny spotted a penguin right away who had climbed the hill to rest for the night and about 30 minutes later we saw one swim in from sea, after a day of fishing. In total, we spotted three yellow eyed penguins – awesome! Those of you who have seen Happy Feet will know these as Lovelace.

Beautiful sunset at Sandfly Bay after penguin watching

We had to be careful on our walk down the beach, as there were several sea lions trying to catch some beauty sleep. We almost tripped on this guy because he blended with the sand so well.

We just couldn’t leave Dunnedin without visiting Baldwin Street. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Baldwin St. in Dunnedin is the steepest in the world! At its maximum, the slope of Baldwin Street is approximately (19° or 35%) - that is, for every 2.86 metres travelled horizontally, the altitude rises by 1 metre. We were too pooped from climbing back up the sand dune the night before, to attempt to walk the hill, we we admired it from the bottom. Ooooh! Ahhhh!

Standing at the bottom of Baldwin Street

Then we were off! Just South of Omarau, we stopped to walk down to the Koekohe beach to see the Moeraki Boulders. These spherical stones are a great mystery. There are several spheres on the beach and some of them have cracked open revealing a hollow interior with a yellowish smooth stone inside. These septarian concretions, grey in colour have been revealed as the black mudstone forming the shoreline has been eroded. They are believed to have been originally formed in ancient sea floor sediments during the early Paleocene around 60 million years ago. Strange indeed! You can read more about them at

Us at Moeraki boulders

Alas, after a total of five and a half hours of driving, some of which Jocelyn did, of course, we arrived in Christchurch. Christchurch is a very big city and like Dunnedin has some beautiful architecture.

For the past 2 weeks, Christchurch has hosted the World Buskers Festival and we were lucky enough to take in some of the acts. One of the big venues was located just outside the beautiful Christchurch Cathedral. Our favorite was Cirque No Problem, a husband and wife team who do juggling and trapeze, they were very funny and excellent at what they do. We hope they win the competition!

The tram which you can ride around town

We’re staying in a beautiful beachside apartment while we enjoy this beautiful city. Today we did the Adrenalin Course, a multi level aerial obstacle course made up of rope bridges, Tarzan swings and zip lines built high in the forest. There are 100 challenges divided over six levels which take around four hours to complete. I did the first four levels while Jenny completed five and Jay and Jocelyn did all six. Level Six, the highest and most challenging is 20 meters above the ground. This activity was both physically and mentally challenging and we were exhausted when we were done.
Jenny & Jocelyn on level three

Jocelyn on level six

Jay on level six
Tonight we went out for dinner, for my birthday, to the Tap Room where we had a delicious stone grill dinner. This was kind of like fondue, but instead of a pot of oil, they bring you your meat on a hot stone and you finish cooking it at your table. It was fun and delicious. One of the menu choices was called 'The Wild Grill', which is an ever changing special of wild meat. As I found this quite intriguing, and I was wanting to have lamb for dinner, I enquired. To my astonishment, I was advised that this evenings wild grill was a combination of kangaroo and goat! I settled for the lamb, pork and beef combo.


Calvin said...

Hi Guys,

I haven't had this much fun since my youth. It looks like you are spending quite some time on terra firma these days. I can see that the exercise is getting you all in terrific shape. "Nice bit of air diving Jocelyn".
I just love the Moeraki Boulders and see the potential for some fine jewellery pieces (from some small interior fragments).

What a great adventure. Keep up the fun!
Love ya.


PS. Happy belated dear Margaret

Larry Pruitt said... should of tried the roo. ;>) I had a sample of it when I was in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago. It tasted similar to beef, but I think that it would have been more appealing with a different sauce than what I had.

Larry Pruitt said... should of tried the roo. ;>) I had a sample of it when I was in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago. It tasted similar to beef, but I think that it would have been more appealing with a different sauce than what I had.