Of course, my first impressions of New Zealand were totally wrong. New Zealand totally rocks....man.
After the rather complicated journey to Auckland, by virtue of a couple of neatly connecting internal flights I arrived in Dunedin just an hour later than I should have (and Air NZ charged me just a modest $65 even though I'd missed my non-refundable, inflexible Christchurch to Dunedin flight). I did manage to lose my primary credit card along the way, but fortunately I carry two of them specifically for this reason.
I dumped my stuff and met a couple of colleagues for dinner, which was a jolly affair at a seafood restaurant, where we tried a couple of Central Otago wines - a Bald Hill Riesling (dry, very fruity and nicely intense) and a 2004 Gibbston Pinot Noir (expressive, bright, drinking nicely). On the way back from dinner we were amazed by the number of drunk students we encountered. Dunedin is full of them, it seems.
Yesterday was fun: after getting the preparation for the symposium out of the way by 11 am, I persuaded a colleague with a hire car to take us for a trip to the Otago Peninsula. We visited Taiaroa Head, which has a really important Albatross colony - unfortunately, you can't see them at the moment because they're choosing their new partners, or something like that (they only get to mate every other year), but it was very pretty. Then we went for a delightful hike through the Pyramids to Victory Beach, where we found a colony of seals lounging around on the rocks.
At the reception yesterday evening two very nice wines were served: a St Clair Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough (sorry, can't remember the block number) that was really refined, and a Valli Pinot Noir from Central Otago, which was also refined and quite full bodied.
Aside: One thing I learned yesterday is that a real problem for agriculture in the region is a pest algal species called Didymo. Also known as 'rock snot', this is a diatom that has been invading waterways, and it causes real problems with irrigation equipment. Just thought I'd share this.
Labels: New Zealand