February 7, 2024
After two days relaxing at sea it was hard to get up and get going this morning. And the time change didn't help! However, it all worked out and we had a great day! It started with breakfast at the World Cafe, then we were off on our first of two excursions for the day.
Excursion #1 - Dunedin City Tour
History - Dunedin was originally settled by the Maori in the 1300s, and they are still culturally attuned to their Maori roots. Then the Scottish arrived in 1848, and named the new city they were building after the area they came from, but using the Gaelic name for Edinburgh. When a large streak of gold was found in 1849, the city grew quickly.
Today - Dunedin still honors both their Maori and Scottish roots.
We learned about the importance of trains to the development of the city and for current transportation. The train station in Dunedin also houses a museum and art show.
We saw the steepest street in the world here. I thought it was really steep! And I grew up in the San Francisco area!
The Glass House is the city's stadium/concert venue., with a roof that opens. The first event there was a concert by Sir Elton John, and recently they hosted the Rugby World Cup.
The major industries in the area are lumber, sheep/cows, and stone fruit. The lumber comes from the growth of Monterrey Pines and Douglas Fir, neither of which are native plants but grow well here. The sheep are used for both wool and lamb, and the area is known for merino wool. The stone fruit includes nectarines, cherries and more that all grow well in the inland areas.
Ghosts! - It seemed like both tour guides mentioned haunted buildings as we drove through the town. Ghosts must really like it here! My favorite story is about the Leviathan Hotel where a female ghost roams the halls looking for her boyfriend. She comes in rooms and "slaps" men sleeping in them that aren't her boyfriend. I wonder what a ghost slap feels like???
There wasn't enough time between the two tours to get lunch, which made us just a little grumpy...
Excursion #2 - The Royal Albatross Center
This was an amazing experience! In case you are not a "birder", the Albatross is the world's largest flying seabird, with a wingspan of up to 11 feet. They can glide for miles without having to flap their wings a single time! Albatross mate for life and spend 80% of their lives at sea, and can live over 60 years. There are many types of Albatross, the most common in New Zealand in the Royal Albatross. Over 100 Royal Albatross live in the area of the Albatross Center, where they are studied and protected. Albatross only lay one egg every two years. We were fortunate to be able to see 4 nesting sites with either an egg or chick from the viewing area, plus a number of Albatross flying in the wind. Karen took some spectacular pictures, and Nancy enjoyed reading the displays and talking to the staff to learn more about these incredible, endangered birds.
We also saw several different types of gulls at the Albatross Center. My favorite was the red-billed gull, because of the spotted tail.
On the rocks near the Royal Albatross Center we spotted some seals and sea lions.
Our day ended with our trip back to the ship, then dinner in the Restaurant and a show in the Theater. Great day!
Tomorrow is Christchurch, New Zealand and a trip to a sheep farm with sheep dogs!