Otago Road Trip Part 1

Given my occupation I have the luxury of very generous holidays.  I spent the first few days in Wellington at a conference, but happened to stop in at Te Papa for the exhibtion of uniforms.  It’s very small but did break the camera with awesomeness in one case:

Lt. Gen. Mateparae’s full dress uniform AND Cpl Apiata VC’s field dress!

Anyway after a few lovely days sunning myself and listening to research on historical thinking I returned to the South island for a bit of car touring.  I started by heading south from Christchurch

to Oamaru

Oamaru markets itself on its Victorian architecture.

In the heritage precinct

NOT the heritage precinct

It has some schmancy shops selling craft whatnot.  I bought some soap and a speculaa.  There are also some 2ndhand shops with a wide array of JUNK.  I was taken in by large piles of records but they turned out all to be Val Doonican, Harry Secombe, and John Rowles.  I headed uptown to the Whitestone cheese factory.  They have a factory viewing area where you can watch the cheese maturing.  The cheese is very good and they have tastings and free postcards (to make your friends jealous?).  Apparently the cast of Scrubs have a regular supply shipped to them in California.  It is that good.  I bought a Windsor blue and managed to leave it behind at the motel.  Dammit!

Oamaru is also the steampunk capital of NZ

This is the steampunk workshop

They have random steampunk works around the place.  However the workshop charged $10 so I didn’t go in.  Instead I walked up the road

to Janet Frame’s house at 56 Eden St

She lived here until 1943.  The house is only open during the summer so I had a look and carried on to the penguins.  Oamaru has colonies of blue and yellow-eyed penguins that come in to nest at dusk.  The blue penguin colony is within a commercial operation so you pay $20 to look at them ($25 if you don’t have some kind of discount card).  They also have the option of premium seats for $35 but I don’t think it’s worth it.  Take a seat avbout 3 rows up on the sea side of the platform.  I went about 7.45, which was just early enough to be able to pick a seat while the million coach tourists were still coming in.  Once wedged in you have a lot of waiting and some commentary.  However the main job of the staff is to stop people from usign cameras of any sort.  One woman was thrown out while I was there.

As for the penguins . . . they are penguins.  They come up the beach about 50 at a time and run in to their nesting grounds.  The premium seats would have a slightly better view of the nests.  It’s ok, but not really worth $20.

I stayed at the Alma motel, a few km out of town.  A 2 bedroom unit cost $75 and was reasonable value.  But watch out for dog poo in the carpark.

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