Thursday, March 4, 2010

Otago Peninsula

We drove through mist and light rain this morning out to Lanarch Castle on the Otago Peninsula, and then all the way to the eastern end where the Royal Albatross Center is located. It is a beautiful landscape, even in the rain. The colors certainly would have been brighter with sunshine, but it was well worth the drive. The Albatross Center has a fascinating exhibit about the seals, penguins, and albatross that breed on the cliffs. We saw NZ fur seals, two different kinds of gulls, and an albatross winging out to sea for a fresh seafood lunch. We had lunch, too, before returning to our motel in Dunedin.

The gardens at Lanarch are small but lovely. The family that have owned the castle since 1967, the Barkers, have made a real effort not only to preserve the original Victorian gardens but to plant and cultivate NZ native species, 80% of which exist no where else in the world. The photo above is the NZ Hibiscus. And, the view is across from the peninsula to the north shore. Ships come in and out to a large container port further east in the sound.

The peninsula has several large sheep stations with native stone fences built by the original thrifty and industrious Scottish settlers. It is very green and very steep with some lovely white sandy beaches and heavy surf in places. The road winds along the sound on one side, and the Pacific Ocean on the other. A wild and wonderful place.

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