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Chased by Sea Lions on Surat Bay – Day 59
Wednesday 25th May 2005
It was the return of old faces today, as well as the arrival of new, and also the chance to play with wild animals on the beach. You could say it was an eventful day. Today’s destination was Dunedin.
I went to Cathedral Caves first thing in the morning to see if it was open to the public yet, and unfortunately, it wasn’t. It was a shame but alas, I had to move on now. I came back to the hostel, gathered my belongings and set out for Dunedin.
The first stop along the way was at Jacks Blowhole. I hadn’t really any clue as to how good it would be, but I was aware it was a bit of a walk. I parked the car and followed the trail, passing a few other people along the way. 40 minutes later I arrived at Jacks Blowhole, and saw what looked like a hole in the ground. Granted, it was a fairly large hole, but a hole nonetheless. You could see the seawater lapping at the base of the hole, but nothing was actually happening. I gathered you needed to be here at high tide to see the hole in action. For now, though, it was dead.
After walking back to the car, passing a few other hopeful tourists along the way, I set off for Surat Bay. I could have told the people on the way back from this hole to turn around as there was nothing to see, but I didn’t want to spoil their enjoyment. Maybe they wanted the 80-minute walk anyway.
At Surat Bay I was told I could see Sea Lions. I didn’t know where I should be looking, so I just walked along the beach anyway. It is a nice beach, and would probably be great in the summer, so I enjoyed just walking along. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I spotted three large shapes on the sand. Sure enough, they were Sea Lions just having a snooze on the beach.
A family had joined me as I took pictures of these wonderful creatures. We were able to get very close without any sign of movement from the Sea Lions, but I had an uneasy feeling about it. Being in the territory of any wild animal is the recipe for disaster, so I kept my wits about me. It was just as well as I spotted a forth coming in from the ocean, and he looked as though he was moving fairly rapidly towards us all. It all seemed OK for a while as the forth Sea Lion slowed a bit and just waddled towards us, but then, out of nowhere, he charged at us. We all turned to run and he dropped to the ground rather bizarrely. As we turned around and started to move towards him again, he charged again at us, then as we ran he dropped to the ground again. It was all very amusing, and went on like this for a while. Eventually I walked on having had my share of the fun.
I arrived shortly after at Nugget Point to see the strange clumps of land scattered about the ocean. It was a nice stop, but there wasn’t really much more to see, so I drove onwards. After a while I arrived at Chalet Lodge Backpackers, and it seemed huge. It was later that I learned it was an old hospital, but the building had now been converted into a hostel. You could certainly get the impression of being in hospital, though, as you walked the long corridors. The ceilings were high and there was a cold feel to the place, almost unwelcoming.
I walked to the town’s information centre, then to the supermarket which was a really long way, afterwards returning to the haunted-feeling building. I made dinner and got talking to some of the others at the dinner table, including a beautiful girl called Catherine. We all had a giggle then retired to the television room to see out the evening.
Whilst watching television and playing with some of the games littering the room, I noticed a girl as she walked in. This girl I had seen a couple of times before, once in Queenstown and once – more recently – in Invercargill. I said hi to Louise and chatted for a while, but as we were talking, yet another familiar face walked in. It was like an episode of ‘This Is Your Life’ (a television programme aired in England some time ago) and it felt surreal. This time, though, the face that appeared through the door was none other than Mr Stu. I couldn’t believe he was back again, and wondered if he was stalking me, but he gave as much as a hello then walked off. I kept my eye on the door waiting for more recognisable people to walk in, but the door stayed closed.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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