Dun Roaming 
We're back home after a week touring the far south, and that should be the last of our trips for a while. Nothing else planned, anyway.

Had an action packed three days in Wellington with the youth work conference, which very nearly didn't happen. The week before, someone came to visit from Australia, spent the weekend visiting museums and restaurants in Wellington, and then went home. And tested positive for the Delta variant. So Wellington went into level 2, and we were on edge - any actual cases and it would have gone to level 3. We dodged a bullet, and somehow no cases were found. So the first two days were at level 2. They had prepared for this, and we had to meet in two different churches to keep the numbers below 100 each. On Monday night, we had dinner in shifts, and they disinfected everything in between. On Tuesday night we had a dinner in the cathedral. With a huge curtain down the middle. North Island people one side, South Island on the other.

Day three we were back in level 1, which meant we could have the dawn visit up to the hill and a gathering outside Parliament all together. The National Archives building is next door, and is a stunning Victorian building of polished granite. The next building is almost as stunning. I understand that they spent a lot of money on those two buildings. The actual Parliament building (nicknamed the Beehive due to its circular domed shape, and the amount of noise and hot air it generates) looks like something they threw up in the sixties with lots of grey concrete and glass. We got a photo shoot outside the middle building. My MP was officially greeting us and recognised me. It's not hard to get to know your MP in this country.

Took a few days to recover from Wellington, and then we were off to Dunedin. Day one; a trip up north to the Moeraki boulders, where we stopped at the Moeraki Tavern and I had a Moeraki burger. Very nice too. The boulders are almost spherical, made of limestone and about 2 metres across. Spent a while hopping boulders and then back home, with a stop to spot seals on the rocks.

Next day, Dunedin peninsula, Larnach Castle and the Albatross sanctuary. Larnach Castle was built by a wealthy banker and MP. He started well, but it was a tragic tale. After three wives, business disasters, and a family scandal, he shot himself and the castle was largely abandoned. A family bought it in the 70s, and have been restoring it ever since. We climbed up to get the view from the top. At the Albatross sanctuary you have to keep out of sight, so we were in an observatory room looking out of the windows. These are Royal Albatrosses, which aren't the biggest, but still have issues landing!

Day three. Paid homage to the World's Steepest Street. It was only half a kilometre from where we were staying, which was also very steep. Dunedin is in a big old volcano, and the hills are all quite steep compared to the rolling hills elsewhere. They have an annual race every year where they roll chocolate balls down the street, and the first one past the line gets a prize. On our visit, there was black ice at the bottom. We didn't try driving up it! Had a very long and scenic drive down to Fortrose. Nice place there. Very quiet and well away from any towns!

Day four. Went as far south as we could get at Slope Point, where after navigating a very muddy paddock ("Enjoy your visit - Antarctica View Farms") we reached The Signpost (and the trig point and lighthouse). On to a beach that was known for seals. We walked all along the beach and didn't see any. So we walked back and got cornered by two that had just arrived. You're supposed to stay 20 metres back. Nobody told the seals that. On to another beach where we spotted one yellow-eyed penguin (my only wild penguin). And then off to Invercargill.

Day 5, had a quiet day around Invercargill. It's the southernmost city in the world, although it's not all that big. We were next to the park, which had a little zoo and botanical gardens. Rach has become obsessed with plants, and spent a while looking for anything she recognised. Our house is getting full of weird cacti and other oddities.

Day 6. Bluff. Southernmost town. A surprising of industry down there, and a port, with a large container ship. It's also famous for oysters, although we didn't try any! More climbing over beaches, and back for dinner in Invercargill.

Day 7. Very long day. Out west first to Gemstone Beach, where we didn't spot any gemstones but a huge variety of coloured pebbles. Came home with quite a collection. Then a bit further west to Tuatapere, which is about as far as you can go before reaching Fiordland, where there are no roads. And a long drive back to Dunedin. Decided to have lunch at Gore. The GPS took us down a rather odd route. I believe it was trying to avoid traffic. We reached the main street and immediately got stuck. Seemed odd to have so much traffic in a rather small town. Then we saw some horse drawn carriages, and a guy riding a horse up the street. And tractors. Lots of them. And utility trucks with dogs on the back. And lots of people and sign boards. "Ah", said Bronwyn. "It's the farmers' protest!"

After crawling along the main street and finally finding a parking spot, we had lunch in a cafe and watched the tractors go by. Apparently there were 800 of them. Plus two combine harvesters and some tankers. They were protesting about the pile of regulations over land use, diesel vehicles and other things that The City People had put on them. Bronwyn was on the phone to her Dad giving a running commentary while we sat there tractor-spotting.

We'd had good weather all the way. On the last day, we managed to squeeze in a visit to the Dunedin botanical gardens (more plant spotting) before the weather closed in as we headed home. Pity there wasn't any snow, but virtually all the rain was in the night.

One day after we returned, our first lamb was born. Then four the next day, and then lots. We've got three in the back yard, and I try to leave by the front door to avoid getting trampled on by the delightful but rather muddy and leaky little bundles. We've been out round the paddock checking on the sheep, and delivered several in the paddock. Lost a couple of sheep and at least one lamb, but otherwise going OK so far. We've had a lot of rain, which might explain the sudden arrival of lambs. But it hasn't been too cold, and the grass is making the most of it!

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