Dunedin & Otago Peninsula Wildlife

Seals, little blue penguins, and above all the impressive northern royal albatross are indeed what Dunedin and it’s adjacent Otago Peninsula are best known for. That and University of Otago, NZ’s oldest and (by acclamation, it seems) best University. Dun is to Gaelic as Borough is to English, so Dunedin is on some level an ode to Edinborough. The center of the city itself is a pretty little octagon of streets and parkland called, surprisingly enough, The Octagon. This formation at the city’s heart leads to some strange street patterns, but once one gets over that the city’s really quite manageable and very pleasant. Around 1900 it had about as many inhabitants as Auckland…but Auckland’s increased by a factor of 10+, while Dunedin — well, maybe it figured out it had nothing to gain by outgrowing itself. It’ll upset many Kiwis, but in many ways I found Dunedin the most interesting and unique of the cities I visited in New Zealand — I’m sure, and I was told by more than one native, that it’s dull to grow up in, but I can more easily imagine retiring there – sucky weather and all – than Auckland, which I found more gangly and awkward in its growth. Oh well, there you have it. Penguins and seals are as cute out in the wild as they are in museums. And royal northern albatrosses, in flight or on takeoff, have a grandeur these photos can never capture. Sorry.

The harbor runs between the peninsula and the mainland on the other side, and the inner harbor is very shallow so admits only fairly small boats; the outer harbor is very active shipping out powdered milk and lumber to China and the rest of Asia. It was foggy when I was out there, in case you hadn’t guessed.

Above and also below: Dunedin’s famous train station. I don’t know where those train cars go: they’re not connected to the national network, which stops at Christchurch a good piece north of Dunedin. I think it’s some kind of regional tourist train. Or maybe they’re just there for show. Nice building, though, huh? Below: one side of The Octagon, with city hall opposite.

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