Tuesday 24th March 2015 – Part 2 - Dunedin to Papatowai; Pipe Bands, Railway Stations, Guns and Albatrosses

Jon & Carol Dutton
Tue 24 Mar 2015 01:27

24th March 2015 – Part 2 - Dunedin to Papatowai; Pipe Bands, Railway Stations, Guns and Albatrosses

Our next stop heading south on the west coast of the South Island was Dunedin - Edinburgh’s original name.  Very Scottish it is too.  Our hostel was a rather severe building which would not have looked out of place in the Edinburgh’s old town but which was, intriguingly, named Hogwartz.  A pipe band competition was taking place whilst we were in the city with teams from all over New Zealand and Australia congregating  around the central space; the Octagon.


No wonder Robbie Burns has his back turned; with a dozen or so bands all pracitising at once it was quite a cacophany!  Ladies in full highland kilt regalia – there’s NZ equality for you.


The railway station – apparently it is the most photographed building in the southern hemisphere, so it just has to go into the blog.


      The interior is beautiful and kept that way since now only tourist trains run from the station.


                                   A beautiful floor mosaic in the centre of the booking hall


                                         Detail from the tiles that adorn the inside of the station

Dunedin is situated at the base of the Otago peninusla at the end of which is a royal albatross colony at Fort Taiaroa.  The fort was built and equipped with an Armstrong disappearing gun in the nineteenth century after a Russian warship sailed by shortly after Russia declared war on Turkey.  The warship carried more guns than the entirety of New Zealand’s arsenal at the time.


The well maintained gun in its pit.  Range to the target ship was established using a theodolite from the concrete observation post, above the pit, to measure the vertical angle to the waterline of the target.  Presumably the range was the known height of the theodolite above the water divided by the tangent of the measured angle of depression.  So, tidal height calculations mattered to some gunners well before the Royal Artillery Yacht Club was founded in the following century.  Add in a bit of non-rigidity and angle of sight and you’re there!


The gun was refurbished during the Second World War – had the Germans invaded (seems a bit ‘out of area’ perhaps) they might have found the translations helpful!

Next door is the very well managed royal albatross colony with strictly controlled access.  We were very lucky to be there during the nesting season.  Only the rangers are allowed anywhere near the nesting birds.  The public gets to see them through the glass of an observatory.  Fortunately, one pair built their nest quite close to the observatory and so a few reasonable photographs were possible.


                                                               Mum, you’re squashing me!


                                                                        Ah, that’s better!

Our next stop was in the Catlins, a very sparsely populated region at the south east of the south Island.  There are rolling hills, meandering rivers and a spectacular varied coastline.  We stayed half way up the hillside in the Papatowai valley for a few days.


                                                      The view from our lodge looking inland …..


                                                               … and out towards the coast



The massive Cathedral Cave, with Jon being used, again, for scale.  This time the sea is the cause of the phenomenon eroding away the limestone.  The cave is about 200 yards long and predictably dark and eerie at the far end.