During this hectic fall start-up, my mom has crossed the Pacific to visit us, along with Alicia Lovejoy’s parents. It has been a joy for all of us to see familiar faces from home. It has been a tremendous comfort to our kids, who miss having playmates, pets, and familiar comforts. Yesterday three of my kids came up at different points to tell me they wanted to go home. As New Zealand begins to feel more permanent and we are back on a regular homeschool routine, they are more aware of what they are missing. I guess field trips to see wild penguins can’t compete with their pets at home—a giant hyper dog and an over-fed orange cat. :).
Mom’s visit and our children’s education have provided the perfect excuse for us to explore Dunedin. We have hit museums, parks, historic buildings, and fascinating geographical features. This place is truly a wonder. If you want to learn more, you can read the kids’ reports when they finish them (grin). For now, enjoy this pictorial tour of our new home.
Blue penguins live along the coast of Dunedin. They fish during the day and return to their homes at night. During the day you can hear the peeping of baby penguins and often spot them in the craggy, coastal hillside, waiting for their parents to return. These tiny penguins have a large colony on the Otago Peninsula, but we have seen them on many of the beaches in Dunedin. The boxes below are penguin houses, built to protect these tiny birds.
Sheep outnumber people seven to one in New Zealand. Merino sheep like this one are less numerous than those bred for meat, but their wool is of great value.
The Otago Settler’s Museum is a fantastic introduction to the history of this area. It pays wonderful tribute to the Maori and traces the roots of this region from the earliest inhabitants to today. As you can see, Emma and Micah made the most of the hands-on exhibits!
Long, sandy beaches line the east coast of the southern island. Some of our favorites are pictured above: St. Clair’s attracts a surfing crowd (and our sand-castle builders), Sand Fly Beach boasts giant sand dunes, and Brighton Beach has spectacular white sand that is so fine it squeaks when you walk on it. The seaweed here is thick and rubbery and looks like long noodles. Below, you can see Tunnel Beach, which is accessed by a tunnel carved through the cliff.
And here are the flowers I’ve promised! Dunedin has a gorgeous, vast, Botanic Garden on the north end of town. Although there are “heaps” of flowers (New Zealanders use the term “heaps” all the time,) I’ve chosen this picture because these Agapanthus and Red Hot Poker plants are everywhere in Otago. In addition to flowers, the Botanic Gardens have a cafe, playground, and—our favorite—a duck pond.Despite the kids’ homesickness, we feel blessed to be here on mission and on adventure in New Zealand. We are so grateful for the Student Life staff members who, for us, are the greatest treasures of Dunedin.
It is currently Saturday and Emma is baking whoopee pies while the other kids read or jump on the trampoline. Dan and Mark are leading students on a rock climbing trip at Long Beach (not pictured.) This afternoon we will have a visit from a homeschool family that we were just introduced to; I am hoping new friends will help alleviate the kids’ sadness over being away from old friends. The perfect world would be to have all of you and our pets here with us to explore God’s handiwork together!