Day 16 (September 23, 2012)   Dunedin and Oamaru


Route for New Zealand's 13th day
   This day could be spent visiting Mount Cook National Park (this mount is the highest peak of Oceania). First we would stop at Pukaki Lake and then at Tekapo Lake to ending this journey.

   Somehow, this is a day probably has been already used for flexibility in the general route plan and could even that interesting if we have already seen Mount Cook from the Lake Matheson area or snow forces to drive with chains or even it is closed.

   The most likely plan, though, would be leaving Dunedin and stopping in Moeraki Boulders, a beach with mysterious spherical big stones.

   From there we would go to Oamaru and would do the tour around the little blue penguins’ colony. They're unique in the world :

Then, if possible, we would leave to Mount Cook, as explained at the beginning.

   This route would be 250 Km long from Dunedin, which should be covered in 3 hours and 15 minutes .


Getting into Dunedin by the sea   This is probably the first morning we can enjoy the holyday Park facilities. Our duties for this travel are done and only remains reaching Christchurch, at 350 Km of distance, and we have two days for that.

   Finally, the only missing point of our route plan is Mount Cook National Park, which already was the weakest one from the beginning. I knew about we were not going to do it since we picked the motorhomes up in Auckland, because there we got the contracts where states we must deliver the vehicles in Christchurch tomorrow before 2:30 PM. It was a so early time as per leaving that day from the National Park. Also, when visiting Pancake Rocks, a couple of Australian commented they needed chains to reach the place, which just confirmed we would miss this specific spot.

   With the spare time, I go to the heated swimming pool after breakfast and spend a 10$ phone card in 20 minutes of conversation with myDunedin center family. Then, as I can see everybody is like waiting for leaving we take the road sooner than scheduled, at 10 AM.

   The first stop of this morning is going to be at Moeraki Boulders, a strange spherical stones in the beach the source of which nobody have been able of deduce. We need a low tide to enjoy them so, as per my tide forecast, the later the better.

   When leaving the Holyday Park, we still need to drive across Dunedin to take the right road: motorway 1; so we can see the city center at daylight. Then, like one hour later, we stop our vehicles in the parking of well-signed Moeraki Boulders.

   There, we find two deer behind a fence which seem to be used to getting food from visitors. I only have some sweets, but they like them too.

Deer in Moeraki Boulders parking areaDeer in Moeraki Boulders parking area

   Then, we pass between the gift shop and the coffee shop to get the stairs taking to the beach, where there are some people making some pictures with the strange stones.

Moeraki Boulders

   These big boulders can play a big part with us and the pictures, and the surroundings are beautiful too for it.

Moeraki BouldersMoeraki Boulders

Moeraki BouldersMoeraki Boulders

   Once again on road we are not going to stop until Oamaru, the city famous by its little blue penguins. It is just a 30 minutes ride, so we get into the city soon and follow the signs to the colony until reaching the sea, which is showing a peculiar soft blue color. This is along an area marked as Victorian neighborhood and I think I’ve just seen a woman dressed as the ones of Jack the Ripper period, ending XIX century. We’ve seen a market from which an époque train just started its trip to… it is actually following us over the rail at the right side of the road. We both, train and motorhomes, end in the parking of the blue penguin colony building which we’re going to visit. We don’t know what all that old things are about.

Road sign in Oamaru

Oamaru marina   We’ll check it later, now we’re going into the visitors center where we pay 12$ per person for a private tour. The same woman at desk is the one leading us outside, where she can show us the nest boxes they’ve set for the penguins and, in a wooden cabin, they have a “window” to the nests below it. After opening a small door you can see the interior of the nest very closely, although we’re explained the glass between you and the penguins hatching eggs is avoiding them to see or hear anything from you, but you cannot do any photo. They’re looking more like regular birds than penguins and they’re big for being birds, but small for being penguins. They have the same tone of blue than the sea. They’re all males as it is the female of this specie the one going outside for food. There are a couple of stands at both sides of the path they follow when returning home for the public can watch them when they come at evening.

Entrance to Blue Penguin colonyStands in Blue Penguin Colony

Nest boxes for blue penguins

   After a walk around it we reach a sort of breakwater on the sea where we can see a seal resting and the views of the marina and the sea. We’re left there until we decide going out the place and exploring the historic area we’ve seen while coming. Actually, there are no more things scheduled for today.

   When we arrive at the place of the market we saw before, it has disappeared. We park in the same area the market was placed before and we can read a notice saying it is not allowed parking there on Sundays until 1 PM because of the celebration of Farmers market. It’s 1:02 PM now – and today is Sunday - and there is absolutely nothing in here. We walk to the buildings nearby as these are part of the Victorian area to explore the empty and old streets.

   It’s difficult to explain what we’re seeing here. It is like an attempt of having a couple of streets showing the common life at the end of 19th century, but it seems to be managed by a few neighbors more than something from an organization or govern. The buildings are showing the spirit the few citizens dressed as in that period are trying to exploit. The stores are opened and following this line with their old signs and even their old business: we pass by a hat maker workshop which seems to be a real and current business Some of the costumes don’t seem to be exactly what was supposed to be. I haven’t been in Victorian period but I’m quite sure dolls were not walking around as in the picture below. We’re really freaking out with this.

Victorian OamaruVictorian Oamaru

Victorian Oamaru

Victorian Oamaru

   After this gentle walk we’re coming back to our motorhomes with the decision for the plan for today: we’re going to drive to Christchurch to reach the city today, in our way we will stop in some beautiful place to lunch what we prepared last night.

   And we do so, at 3:15 PM we stop in a picnic area, although it is not that beautiful. A couple of broken benches with table are there to tempting to lunch, but I do it standing.

Landscape in our way to ChristchurchLunching picnic in our way to Christchurch

   We’re on road again and just one hour more for driving. We’re taking conscious almost no new New Zealand landscapes are in front of us now as we’re saying good bye to the road. That’s why we start to taking pictures around the road, as the one of the long bridge below.

Long bridge in our way to Christchurch

   We get into the chosen Holyday Park before 5 PM, which is going to be our last one. It is located close to the airport and have a lot of advantages for tomorrow’s plans, as the girl at desk are explaining: they will keep our baggage tomorrow until the time to go to the airport, they will take us to the airport at the scheduled time for free, the Apollo office where we must deliver the motorhomes tomorrow is in the next street and the only place we want to visit is at walking distance: Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.

   We just need to empty the toilet and waste water tanks and filling the water and fuel tanks to deliver what have been our partners along all this two weeks trip around the whole country. It will be tomorrow as we can rest today.