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Thursday 20 February 2003


Queenstown - Dunedin

Baldwin Street Dunedin - Steepest in the World

The Bottom Bus arrived at the camp ground at 7:30 in the morning (too early!). I had got up at 6:30 and struck camp in a hurry. After picking people up at various hostels, the bus drove out of Queenstown the way I had come in.

The Mountains which still had lacy white tops from the fresh snow during my hike, slowly turned into brown rolling hills as we drove east. The paddocks had heaps of sheep, and a few cows and deer. After a couple of break stops, we came to a hill overlooking Dunedin harbour and the Otago peninsula.

Soon we came into the suburbs of Dunedin and stopped at Baldwin street – recorded as the steepest street in the world. Most people on the bus walked up it – myself included. It was steep, yes, but the steepest anywhere? – It didn’t seem like it. (my perspective may have been altered by climbing mountains while tramping). Coming down, it was hard not to run, because of the slope. Cars sounded like they had to rev hard to get up. We then drove to the centre of the city – the Octagon. Here there was a cathedral and Town Hall. Then everyone was dropped at their hstels – mine was “Next Stop”, but when I went in, they had a reservation for the next day, not today. The ‘Track and Info Centre’ had stuffed up the booking. Fortunately, Dunedin is not like Queenstown, and I was able to get a bed at Dunedin Central Backpackers with the help of the guy at “Next Stop”. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very nice hostel, being on the second floor of a small building on the Octagon. – It had been let run down, but wasn’t very nice in the first place.

After wandering for a while, I returned to the Octagon for a tour of the albatross colony on the peninsula, which I’d booked for $50 with the bus driver. I and seven others got in a van bus and took off for the peninsula. We took the “low road” for about 30km along the shoreline to the tip of the peninsula. The road wound in and out endlessly around all the twists of the coast. The driver was driving quite fast for the road. At the colony, there is a visitors centre with some displays about albatrosses, and the area. The tour started with a short video about the albatross and the colony ( the only mainland colony in the world) We were then taken up the headland and through barbed wire chain link gates to the viewing house. There were five albatrosses in sight sitting on nests with chicks. The albatross chick was big – almost as big as the adult – Apparently they get much bigger than the adult and then have to starve to loose weight so they can fly. Another albatross was wandering up and down the hillside, and two more swooped past through the air several times. There were stacks of Stewart Island shags in a colony at the waters edge.

The birds were large, but it was hard to judge the size, since there was nothing to compare against which was near them. Soon we were taken back to the visitors centre. I went down to the cliff edge and saw a seal playing in the kelp on the waters edge, at the base of the cliff. I was the only one who had chosen to see the albatross colony from the Bottom Bus – the others went for a ride on 8 wheel all terrain vehicles to see seals and penguins. On the way back to Dunedin, taking the “high road” over the hills, it started to rain heavily, then hailing, then the sun came out and it stopped raining. The views of the harbour on the way there were great, on the way back, there were no views at all.

Back in Dunedin, I had an average satay for dinner and went to the cinema to see ‘8 mile’ I thought it probably would be pretty bad – as it usually is when a music star tries to act, but it really was quite good. Whenever I’m watching a movie and a really good piece of music comes on and is very appropriate, I get chills all over. – I got this when the “Lose Yourself” song came on. – I wouldn’t have thought this would happen for a rap song, but it is a really good song and backed up the story perfectly.