Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Invercargill to Dunedin and Train

Well, it has been a couple of days since I undated my blog. The place we are staying in Warrington (just north of Dunedin) doesn't have internet available. It is Wednesday morning as I write this and I am using the internet connection of Sylvia & Roy's friend Chuck here in Warrington. So I have two days of travels to update in this blog.

The weather has been lovely but on the cool to cold side. Monday morning in Invercargill it was cold enough to frost up the car. Of course the rental care did not have any kind if scraper, but we were able to melt it off with the read window defroster and the heater without any major delay. It hasn't been that cold here in the Dunedin area but I sure am glad I brought a sweatshirt along on the trip.

On leaving Invercargill, we drove south into the Catlins area. This is a drive along the southern coast. Most of the sights we off even the local paved road down gravel roads but the sights were beautiful. I guess my statement about being as far south as we would go on the trip wasn't totally true, as we drove down to Slope Point which is the southern most point of the South Island (46 degrees South). There are more southern places, but they are islands that are part of New Zealand, so I guess Slope Point will have to do.

From there we went to Curio Bay and the petrified trees. They are only visible during low tide. We were lucky in that it was low tide when were there.

Then we stopped and took a short walk to view McLean Falls. They are the most spactacular falls in the Catlin area. It was worth the 45 minute walk through forest to see the falls. There are actually two falls. Because it had been raining recently, there was lots of water flowing.

We stopped for lunch at the Whistling Frog. A nice cafe with very good food. I had the sole, and Katie had the fish stew. The owner and his wife were fun to talk to. He is a New Zealander but she is originally from Colorado and we were able to discuss Colorado vs Nebraska rivalry. They had lived in the US for 20 years and decided to move back to New Zealand 10 years ago.

From there we drove past Tahakopa Bay and a beautiful view of the beach enroute to Nugget Point. We were hoping to see penguins here but were there at the wrong time of day. In this season, the penguins are out to sea during the day and only come in during the late afternoon and evening.

It was interesting to look at how the bushes and trees were impacted by the prevailing winds as it came up the hill side. Yes, that is my hand but I needed to block the sun from the lens.

One of the things we have noticed along the way are the hedge rows that often divide fields and are used as wind breaks. At Chuck's, he had cut an opening in the hedge row so I went in and took a picture inside. It is my understanding that you can litterly walk across the tops of the hedges, they are so thick and dense.

On the menu for Monday night was a home cooked meal. I was asked to make a meat loaf (I'm pretty good at it). It was delicious and good to have home cooking after all the resturant meals.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was a full and fun day. We clear weather and a beautiful view from the house we are renting. Then we drove into Dunedin to the train station.

There is an excursion train that you can take. In fact there are two different trains and it is possible to do a connection between them, which involves a bus tour of a working gold mine. What a fun and beautiful day.

We started the day on the Seasider, which follows the East Coast 66 km (41 miles) north to Palmerston. It climbs in places so you get really nice views of the various bays and the Pacific Ocean from the train.

At Palmerston, we got on a bus and drove inland and climed to about 600 meters (1800 feet) and toured the gold mine. The mine is a combination of strip mining and underground mining. As expected there were deep holes in the ground and "ginormous" trucks carrying tons of rock. The amount of gold in the rock is very low.....something on the order of 1 gram of gold per ton of rock, but with the price of gold, it is makes the company a nice profit.

We also went past one of the early processing plants when free (placer) gold could be extracted from the quartz rock simply by crushing the rock.

After the tour we had tea and cake at Stanley's Hotel.

On the drive to catch the Taieri Gorge train back to Dunedin, we came upon a flock of sheep in the road. It was fun to watch the dogs clear the road for us to pass.

The Tairi Gorge train pass through the gorge with the same name. What a wonderfully scenic spot. Every bend in the track and spactacular views. I included just a couple of the 160 pictures I took yesterday.

On the menu last night was Tarikihi (a fish similar to cod), Pueau (a type of Abiloni), and Blue Cod. I need to take my camera to dinner one of these evenings because to presentation of the meals we have is scenic just by itself.

Today, we are off to see some of Dunedit, Albetross, and will continue the quest to see penguins in the wild. Because of the availability of the internet, it may be a couple more days before I get a chance to update the blog again. Keep checking.......I will be back.

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