SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
December 08, 2014
Dunedin Doesn’t Disappoint
45° 52.7’S x 170° 30.8’E
Cloudy and brisk with intermittent sunshine
Sail Plan & Course/Speed
Docked in Dunedin
Today marks our first full day in the city of Dunedin! And what a day it has been. This is the furthest south I or SEA has ever been. Some fun facts about this city: it houses the first University established in NZ and had the first botanic garden in this country. Dunedin is a very different city from Wellington and Auckland. This city has strong Scottish roots in its demographic and sports blatant European-inspired themes throughout the parts of the city we have seen thus far. This is clearest in the city’s name itself (from a Gaelic word), neighborhood names (i.e. Roslyn, Waverly, Burnside, Concord, and Bradford) and style of architecture. The colonial era architecture is beautiful and prominent in the many churches, the train station, and government buildings.
Today was busy right from the start, with cleaning to get in ship-shape before our on-shore activities began since an Open Ship event was scheduled in the afternoon. We got a beautiful picture of the boat entering the harbor in the local newspaper advertising the event so over 350 people showed up! I wasn’t aboard but that sounds pretty incredible (not to mention hectic). Here is a link to the article.
Anyways, our first activity was short presentations on our field research and findings from our Maritime History and Culture essays. These were certainly informative and it seemed like people did some really interesting
and engaging research that simply can’t be completed sitting at a computer in Woods Hole. We had a little free time after this to walk around the downtown area (which is relatively small) and get a feel for this new city;
it is quaint. It was disconcerting to come upon a giant Christmas tree with lights and everything while flowers and trees are flourishing all around.
In the early afternoon, we piled onto a bus to go to Penguin Place, a conservation site/project on nearby Otago Peninsula. On the way there we stopped at the steepest street in the world and ran (or tried to) up all 350
meters. This isn’t that much of a diagonal distance but again, it’s the steepest street in the world so it was tough, even tougher for our classmate on crutches with a sprained ankle who made it most of the way. I commend her. Then we got back on the bus and drove along the water to Penguin Place.
There were yellow-eyed penguins (the third tallest variety in the world and an endangered species) and blue penguins (known in Australia as fairies and the smallest penguins in the world). This conservation site is also home to seals, sea-lions, and a wide variety of other birds. Penguin Place consists of a series of covered trenches and peeping huts so that humans can view the penguins without disturbing them, because yellow-eyed penguins are notoriously skittish. Many of the penguins we saw were enjoying an afternoon nap, but it was cool to see juveniles and adults together up close. The site itself was very beautiful, with exposed cliffs, rolling hills, gently crashing waves, and all kinds of indigenous flora.
The ride on the bus back to the boat after the penguin sanctuary was definitely noteworthy. Instead of driving along the water, we went up into the hills on the southern side of Otago harbor. This was a breathtaking experience. This series of bus rides marked the first time most of us had seen the pastures of New Zealand we had heard so much about. The massive hills were dotted with many sheep, cows, and horses. We drove along narrow roads, mere meters from the edge, overlooking the sea on one side and the harbor on the other. Being up so high we could see the most expansive and gorgeous views. Amidst the clouds and towering hills, it was refreshing and exhilarating to experience the sea from land and from such heights! Words simply do not do it justice. I am excited for the adventures that tomorrow will bring. Dunedin does not disappoint.
To those reading this stateside, try not to be too jealous. I hope this blog sparks your sense of wonder and adventure. To my family, I miss you lots (but not quite enough to come home any time soon).