Sunday, January 15, 2012

15 January 2012: Dunedin

Our planned trip to the Dunedin Botanical Gardens was 'called' last night due to the forecast for southwesterly winds blowing at 30mph and heavy rain showers projected to hit Dunedin today.  Well, we awoke to blue skies and bright sun...perfect weather for a guided tour through the Gardens.  Alas, having canceled the tour the previous evening, we were stuck with an 'open' morning.  The students, always eager to do something new, decided to take a tour of the local Cadbury chocolate factory.  Most reviews of the factory came back favorably, particularly from the students who LOVE chocolate!

Dr. Moran and I decided to meet with Dr. Dudle for a guided tour of Dunedin, rather than the gardens, and very much enjoyed our time talking with a professor from a similarly-sized institution. Dr. Dudle is an evolutionary biologist specializing in plants and she is conducting research through Otago University while on sabbatical from her home institution of DePauw University.  Her studies take her into regional mountains, where she investigates the function of pigments in various alpine plant species.  We missed a great opportunity to hear Dr. Dudle speak about the native New Zealand plants in the Botantical Gardens, but gained a lot of insight into a US citizen living in New Zealand for a prolonged period of time.  Very cool!

The good weather wasn't completely lost on our crew.  We packed up in the late afternoon and headed to the beach to poke around for a bit.  We drove to the southern portion of Dunedin to find St. Kilda beach, one of many beaches lining this area of Dunedin.  The sun was shining, but the wind was howling!  Our awesome pictures (see below) do not quite capture how chilly the blowing winds made us feel!  Even the red-billed gulls and black-backed gulls seemed chilled by the roaring winds from the southwest!  We decided to call it an early afternoon and retreated to the comforts of our hostel back in town.

Tomorrow: the rare yellow-eyed penguins of the Otago peninsula! (if the weather holds out!)

  Dr. Dana Dudle (DePauw University) and I standing on greatly-sloping hill in Dunedin. Dana told Dr. Moran and I that the city of Dunedin had been planned in Scotland without the aid of a topographical map, and then the builders went ahead with the original plans without regard to the area's terrain!

Our group standing on St. Kilda beach south of Dunedin.  This photo, taken just as we walked onto the beach, only hints at how chilly the beach was during our visit!

Self portrait of Dr. Moran and I on St. Kilda beach, Dunedin.

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