It was time to go our separate ways. Pauline and Andrew took the high road back towards Chch as Pauline goes back to work on Monday. Liesel and I took the low road deciding to stay on the east coast rather than go west, because the weather forecast looked so grim. In fact, on this Friday it was raining. A lot. Every time we thought we were heading towards brighter skies, the precipitation found us again.
So we saw a lot of the countryside through frosted glass. Not literally frosted, it was still fairly warm, but… But not all was lost: we were able to listen to music on the way and what a wonderful variety of tunes: Neil Diamond, Rosanne Cash, Björk, Paul McCartney, Anna Neale, Tasmin Archer, Terra Naomi, Pink Floyd and eventually, at last, David Bowie! The shuffle mode should be random, you’d think, but the number of tracks played by certain artistes bears no relation to the number of tracks available on the device. Ian Dury? Bic Runga? Murray Gold? The Unthanks? Dozens of tracks, zero plays today.
We spent some time in the museum at Owaka and we learned that there is nothing new even in these days of modern technology.
“Turn it off and turn it on again” was a recognised solution even in the 1920s.
With a name like that, of course I had to cross the road and have a quick look. The person inside looked quite nice actually and the place, apart from a few cobwebs, was spotlessly clean.
We ended up driving all the way back to St Kilda, Dunedin and since our usual(!) Airbnb was booked, we ended up at Adrian Mole’s place. No, that’s not right, it was Adrian’s Motel.
The following day was a total contrast. Blue skies, a few fluffy clouds, sunshine and a perfect day to go for a long, long walk on the beach. There were many more people here today, incluing children playing in the sea and even a guy trying to surf. Liesel later saw a sealion too.
Pauline confirmed by electronic communication that these birds with clothes pegs where their beaks used to be are indeed oystercatchers.
We drove to Moeraki where we found the Boulders on the beach. I remarked how funny it is how memory distorts things. I’m sure that the last time I visited this place, there were just a few, very large boulders on the beach. Today, there were far more, they were all smaller than I recalled, and some were even in the sea, as the tide was in.
Our stopping point for the night, in fact, two nights, was Oamaru. Another motel, to boot.
I went for a walk to book tickets so that we could later on go down to the the blue penguins coming ashore for the night.
I thought the tower at the fire station was quite interesting, being taller than most of the buildings in so-called Victorian Oamaru.
We went to the penguin colony for 9pm and joined hundreds of other penguin-hunters.
On the rocks, a seal was basking but the announcer assured us that seals don’t eat penguins, as they have a very similar, fish-based diet. She then gave a list of predators by way of explaining why the penguins would arrive in groups, known as rafts, each comprised of about 15 penguins.
No electronic equipment, cameras, phones, laptops, tablets were meant to be used as the lights disturb the penguins. So I took just a quick one or two from the back of the stand, with no flash of course, just using their own lighting system which apparently doesn’t affect the penguins: they just think it’s moonlight.
A whole day in Oamaru was a great opportunity to explore this fascinating, old town. But it rained. A lot. I did go for a walk leaving Liesel behind to take care of the laundry, thanks, Liesel. The museum was closed so I visited Steampunk HQ instead and this really was a lot of fun. There are some clever people out there, turning old, rusty, metal objects into new, working gadgets. Many come from outside our own galaxy and some are even brought here by time-travellers.
I had a go on this Metagalactic Pipe Organ and amongst the various noises and sound effects, I did manage to knock out the five-note theme from Close Encounters as well as the beginning of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue.
Bosca is made from the ancient bones of plains gorillas. These bones lay in the soil, became rock then iron ore.
This iron ore was mined by huge steam-powered shovels and smelted in great coal-fired crucibles to create cast iron and steel.
These materials were used to build the works of men: bridges, machines, cars, planes and ocean-going ships.
When these machines broke down, their bones were used to create Bosca.
Bosca is the distillation of millions of years of struggle.
The sculptor was Chris Meder, responsible for many of the exhibits here.
The Portal Experience was great fun too. Up to six people stand in a small space where the walls, ceiling and floor are mirrors and hundreds of lights are reflected hundreds of times to give the illusion of floating in space. Magic!
I took a selfie but this isn’t me and Liesel, it’s me and someone else. Liesel was still in a cold, lonely motel room. Where I joined her sooner than planned after leaving Steampunk HQ because the rain was like a big hairy spider: it was torrentialler. I stopped on the way back to buy us hot coffee and hot chips.
The rest of the day was spent fairly horizontal, reading (me), watching Doc Martin (Liesel), snacking (both), napping (both) and blogging (neither).