Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Oamaru – (where the wind goes whipping down the plain)

Come on – sing it with us now – just take out Oklahoma and replace it with Oamaru.  I’m not sure it happens everyday in Oamaru, but the wind was fierce in our drive up from Dunedin.  This big box of a van did sail a few times across the lane, but thankfully not out of it!  Fortunately it wasn’t raining also.  It still was gusty last night.  It looks to be a calm day today.
Oamaru is just 35 kilometers from Dunedin, but also the home of a little blue penguin colony.  So we’ve wandered up to Oamaru, spent the day shopping, and the late afternoon making some new friends – all waiting for dusk when the little blue penguins come home.
imageOur first stop was to the Whitestone Cheese Factory.  I will be looking for more of their products.  This is good cheese.  We recommend the Farmhouse.  If you like a blue, the Windsor Blue is a creamy, softer cheese and not too sharp on the blue taste.  I’d give up meat before I’d give up cheese.  Add that to fav list of chocolate and cherries.

image From there we wandered into the historic district where we found an exhibit from the Oamaru Car Club.  After all of the organic shapes from the magnificent landscapes, I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed photographing the patterns and geometrics of these cars, tools, parts.  Not to mention it was just fun to see these old beauties.  The building was quite old and a little dusty, but I can tell you, the cars were not.  Below is a 1953 Ransley Riley that has a supercharged 4 cylinder 2.5 litre engine.  It was timed at 128 mph with the present gearing.  Behind it is a 1981 500 SLC Mercedes.  This model was used for the European Touring Car Championships.  image Here’s a 1936 AC Sports Tourer with a 6 cylinder 1991cc engine.imageLastly, a 1967 Riley Elf MKIII – just for the Elf…image Oamaru also is a large source of limestone.  Many of the historic buildings were built out of the rock.  They were quite beautiful an ornate as one would expect.                                                 image Also there are a number of people who offer carvings out of the stone.  We still have not found a creche to add to our collection, so we commissioned Ian Anderson to create us one.  I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with.imageWe then rang up some friends of friends and spent the late afternoon with them over a nice Sauvignon Blanc.  It turns out the one winery, Hunters, we visited in Marlborough was their favorite. 
It was a good day and dusk finally came on.  We were to be at the Oamaru Little Blue Penguin Colony at 9 pm.  We were a little early and were escorted to the grandstands.  Yes – grandstands.  Literally, there is a covered set of stands that has been built on the shore.  Rafts of penguins will come in from the sea directly in front of the stands, then make their way up the rocks to the level nesting areas.  The center has built huts for them, but a few penguins will build their own in the bush.  Just as we were told, these rafts of penguins would come in about 10 minutes apart.  We were able to watch nearly 100 come in from the sea and pass right in front of all 350 of us.  Definitely a different experience than the night before!Unfortunately, no photography is allowed, so no pictures here.  But I can tell you the little blue penguin is about 10 inches tall and weighs a little over 2 pounds.  It is the smallest penguin.  Their backs are a navy blue so they cannot be seen from the air while they fish during the day.  Their bellies are white so they cannot be seen from deep within the sea.  There are about 500 in this colony and another 600 not far away.  These guys are doing well and were particularly cute.  The best part was hearing the chicks in the huts cry out when the parents came in to feed them.  Think of what it took to get 350 people to be quiet enough to hear that!
Without the penguins, there are just a few pictures – but here they are!

1 comment:

Life Looms Large said...

Blue penguins! Too cool....even if it did involve grandstands and many other tourists.

Penguins are so interesting. We saw a penguin colony in Argentina once. They lived in burrows in the ground, and behaved similarly....coming to shore in groups and heading to their burrows without minding various tourists scattered about. Fortunately for us, those penguins came ashore in the daylight so they were easy to see and photograph.

All of your posts make me hungry! Cheese is definitely right up there with chocolate and berries in my book!