5:45 am Saturday July 7- my alarm goes off and I snooze… twice
6:10 am- finally get up and wander to the “living room” of Abbey in my slippers and sweat pants
6:11 am- grab a cup of coffee from the dining room and sit on one of the sofas in front of the big screen tv
6:15 am- there are five of us watching the World Cup Match between Belgium and Brazil! It was a really good game, both teams played really well, at a fast pace. Belgium won in the end, a huge upset for Brazil. I did not have a particular team I was supporting, just watched the footie!
8:05 am- had breakfast, toast with Nutella and banana (my go to at the moment).
8:15 am- I went back to sleep
11:30 am- woke up again, to really begin the day! I skipped lunch, as I was not very hungry
12:35 pm- got into my CAR, an 2003 blue Nissan sedan. I tried to get in on the left side of the car, felt like an idiot. Got in on the right side of the car and figured out how to work the radio.
12:40 pm- got gas (petrol). It took me a minute to figure out the pump and how to pay. Pump first then pay at this station, not sure if that is the norm.
12:43 pm- My plan was just to drive around, getting more of a feel for Dunedin and the surrounding areas. I kind of think of Dunedin as a city in a valley, or in a trough of a hill system. The surrounding neighborhoods are typically on these hills, unless it is by the ocean near St. Clair. Anyways, the view from these neighborhoods is incredible. You can see all the way out to the Peninsula to the ocean and down onto Dunedin city.
1:30 pm ish- I drove through the center of the city and headed out towards the Peninsula. I did not really have a destination. It was a beautiful day so the window was down and music was up. It was so nice having the freedom to go where ever I wanted, whenever I wanted. It also made me feel a bit more like a resident of NZ.
2:15 pm- made it to Penguin Place, near the end of the Peninsula. It was closed however, but I just wanted to see where it was and what it looked like. It is a rehab/reserve for Yellow-Eyed penguins. I will take a tour one day, perhaps with some visitors 😉
2:20 pm- headed back toward Dunedin. I saw a sign for Sandfly Bay and made a sharp left about 10 km from Penguin Place.
2:30 pm- arrived at Sandfly Bay. Remember how I said it was really hilly? Well the access to most beaches on the Peninsula coast is… challenging. You are essentially hiking very steep paths. This one was sandy, which was actually nice because you did not slip. I was not thinking about going back up at this point.
2:40 pm- SEA LIONS! There were about 15 of them all snoozing on the beach. Right at the public access route there was like 6 of em. It was a beautiful sight. The tide was high but receding. I wandered along the beach, careful to leave distance between me and the sea lions. These guys were actually mostly males hauled out to rest after a big foraging trip. They are much darker and larger than the females. They were enjoying the sun as much as I was. They are known to be a bit less scared of humans and will approach or chase anyone who gets too close. I think they know they are stronger than us! One big guy also made his way back into the ocean, surfing the waves for a bit. It was cool to see!
3:15 pm- I made it the end of the beach where I spotted three seals! The difference between a seal and a sea lion you ask? Seals flop on their bellies and have short flippers and ear holes. They are also a bit smaller, depending on the species. Sea lions have larger flippers that have movable joints, so they can prop themselves up with (these are the ones you see that are trained for shows at aquariums and zoos). They have ear flaps instead of holes.
3:20 pm- sat down to watch the waves and perhaps a penguin. I was hoping but not too expectant. It was a bit early for them to return. They do breed on this beach though. I noticed a sea lion covered in sand (which they do from time to time to cool off). However, something did not look right, and I realized he was dead. I approached and saw he had not eyes (they decompose first), but was not decaying so was relatively newly deceased. He looked like a juvenile to me. I wanted to report to DOC (Department of Conservation) to inform them. They not only will take care of the body but will also investigate cause of death and if he was tagged or not for research and record purposes. However, I did not have any phone service. I would have to wait until later.
3:35 pm- walked back to the entrance but had to wait for a bit because the big group of sea lions now had a female which was causing quite the stir. They were roaring at each other, each vying for the female’s attention. I did not particularly want to get involved. Once they sort of settled down, I was able to sneak past.
3:40 pm- the climb. I needed frequent breaks but somehow managed to make in to the top. Winded and tired.
3:50 pm- drove off back to town. There are two roads on the Peninsula, one that follows the north western coast the other goes through the center. On my there, I used mostly the northern route but used the more scenic center route. The road is… narrow at many points and very curvy.
4:00 pm ish- I made a pit stop at a hardware store, because there was a plant nursery. I really wanted to get some flowers for my room. It took me a long time to pick out the two flower pots I bought.
4:28 pm- made it back to Abbey and relaxed before dinner
6:00 pm- dinner!
9:30 pm- went to a friend’s room and had a really nice night talking with a bunch of people from Abbey. Drinks going around. Just a nice relaxing evening.
11:54 pm- got back to my room. Now the hard part- stay awake until 2 am to watch the World Cup game between England and Sweden. I accomplished this by watching a few tv shows on my laptop.
1:55 am- headed back to the “living room” in my pjs. Grabbed a cup of coffee and settled in for the game. I talked to Audrey, my sister, via Whatsapp messaging through the game, making it so much fun. There started off 4 of us, around halftime there were like 7, and then by the end there was just 2. England was playing really well and had the ball for the majority of the time. I have to say though, Sweden’s defense was excellent, all things considering.
4:35 am- FINALLY went to bed
Sunday I woke up for Salsa lessons, being taught by a girl living at Abbey from Colombia. There was like 15 of us. It was quite the workout, I loved it. I will be going again. I had lunch and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon! Check out the photos on my main blog page for more!