Dunedin City fraud

Otago Daily Times have combined information from a police investigation file released yesterday under an Official Information Act request and Deloitte’s full report (of their investigation) that was leaked to ODT last month.

Two escape Citifleet prosecution

A police report suggests Brent Bachop’s death and a right to silence may have helped two others escape prosecution following the Dunedin City Council’s $1.5 million Citifleet fraud.

The police investigation was launched last year after Deloitte found Mr Bachop, the former Citifleet team leader, to be at the centre of the decade-long fraud.

He was found to have sold 152 council vehicles, while pocketing proceeds, and police concluded in June there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone else in relation to the fraud.

But the police investigation file, released yesterday following an Official Information Act request, questions the actions of two other parties – a Dunedin car dealer and an unnamed woman – who were not charged.

There was evidence both parties had ”potential culpability”, one for receiving stolen goods and the other for conversion of a council vehicle.

However, the death of Mr Bachop – who was not named directly in the police report – and the right to silence meant both had a defence that could not be overcome, it said.

That conclusion came despite the actions of one of the parties – a salesman at an unnamed Dunedin car dealership – being considered ”highly suspicious”, the police report said.

The ODT goes on to explain the reasoning by the Police for not prosecuting, and they name the woman and the car dealership. They didn’t name the salesman himself but I’ve seen his identity revealed online previously.

While these two individuals have escaped prosecution the burden of their exposure as highly suspect will live with them.

And Dunedin City Council has a severely stained reputation on this as well. One hundred and fifty two cars not being accounted for over ten years shows extremely lax asset management. Several senior staff have resigned since this was publicised.

Stuff also reports: Police raised possibility of others involved in Dunedin City Council Citifleet fraud.

The police investigation followed a Deloitte’s report which suggested six potential areas of criminal activities: 152 missing vehicles, credit card/fuel card spending, purchase of a motorbike, council vehicle conversion and cashing cheques for refilling parking machines.

The subsequent police investigation was to determine if anyone other than Bachop was involved in fraudulent activity, and if anyone had culpability as to the offending, or as a receiver.

Police spoke to all but three of the people who bought one of the 152 vehicles. Those three people could not be traced.

“Almost without exception the purchasers of the vehicles stated that they believed (Bachop) was entitled to sell the vehicles and had no reason to believe that he was not forwarding their money onto council,” the report noted.

So it remains unknown whether any of the car purchasers had any inkling they were getting bargains at the expense of ratepayers or not.

And the ‘negligence’ of the Council is pointed out.

The report also concluded that the council’s finance department was “negligent” in the way they maintained the fixed asset register.

“There is no evidence that anyone deliberately turned a blind eye to the errors on the register, nor is there any evidence that anyone in the finance department would have any motivation to complicit in (name withheld) offending.”

Negligence is a mild description for a finance department that did not detect that an average of fifteen significant assets per year for ten years were disappearing from their books.

And this may not be all. The Council decided to not investigate further back than ten years due to difficulties in checking through records. What records? It’s basic stuff accounting for assets.

Brent Bachop took over management of Dunedin City’s vehicle fleet from someone who was referred to as ‘Arthur Daly’.

The known level of fraud and the lack of confidence that it was the only fraud is a very bad look for Dunedin.

We can only hope that the Council now has rock solid accounting and accountability.

Venus-Jupiter conjunction from Dunedin

I was out and about early evening yesterday and noticed a bright ‘star’ near the western horizon, with another lesser one close to it. It was so unusual I wondered if it was a bright light on a hill, but it was just too high for that.

Twitter answered my question – it was a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, which must be lining up on the far side of the sun. Venus’ orbit is inside Earth’s, while Jupiter is the closest gas giant beyond Earth.

Ian Griffin, director of Otago Museum and also a keen astronomer and photographer, took some cool pictures and posted them on Twitter.

VenusJupiter30June-1Venus and Jupiter shining high in the afternoon sky (I guess about 4 o’clock-ish). Taken from Hoopers Inlet which is on the south eastern side of Otago Peninsula, looking west over Dunedin Harbour. That’s Harbour cone on the left (I see it from the harbour side from home) and Mt Cargill in the distance.


Taken from (I presume) the Peninsula road overlooking Otago Harbour with
the triple volcanic peaks of Mt Cargill lined along the horizon.

VenusJupiter30June-4A little later from a little further west (Ian must have been travelling along the Peninsula road towards Dunedin City).


Just on dusk (5-5.30 pm-ish), zoomed in from a similar location.

Although the Venus-Jupiter conjunction was setting behind Mt Cargill from Dunedin City you see them into the evening (I saw them still just above the western hills at 8 pm.


A zoomed in long exposure after dark. Amazing to see four of Jupiter’s sixteen moons lined up.

Photos posted on Twitter by:

Ian Griffin @iangriffin

Promoting science, innovation and culture in Dunedin New Zealand & beyond. I’m the 8th Director of the Otago Museum, but this is my personal twitter account.

The orbital inclinations of the two planets are similar – Venus 3.23 degrees and Jupiter 1.18 degrees – so they can be seen close together when they line up like this.

National Geographic explained the conjunction in Venus and Jupiter Get Bright and Tight in This Week’s Sky.

If you spot clear skies any evening this week, don’t miss your chance to witness a stunning close encounter of the two brightest star-like objects in the sky.

Venus and Jupiter—both dazzling star-like objects—will appear to huddle close together in the sunset skies this week. This will be the planets’ nearest approach in over a decade.

Both worlds have been slowly converging over the past several weeks, and on Tuesday, June 30, and Wednesday, July 1, they will reach their tightest grouping, separated by less than half a degree. That’s less than the width of the disk of the full moon. So close that onlookers will be able to cover both planets with just their pinky held at arm’s length.

Astronomers call these celestial meetups conjunctions. And this is the second in a series of three between Venus and Jupiter in over a year. The cosmic duo were a bit tighter on August 18, 2014, and will be a tad farther apart in their next encounter at dawn on October 26.

Venus will appear about 6 times brighter than Jupiter even though it’s only a tenth the size. That’s because Venus is eternally enshrouded with highly reflective white clouds and is much closer to Earth. It’s about 56 million miles (90 million kilometers) away while Jupiter is much more distant—some 550 million miles (890 million kilometers).  So their apparent proximity to each other is just an optical illusion.

But before that, Venus and Jupiter will offer one last opportunity for an amazing photo at dusk. As a grand finale, the planets will be joined by the razor-thin crescent moon on July 18th. The tight celestial grouping will span no more than 4 degrees—less than the width of the three middle fingers held at arm’s length.

After July 1st, both planets will appear to quickly separate and sink closer to the horizon. They’ll be lost in the glare of the sunset by the end of the month. Both will reappear in late August as bright morning stars visible before dawn.

Even though conjunctions aren’t that rare, this series is the best between these planets in about 15 years. If you miss the remaining conjunctions, you’ll get another chance next year on August 27.

My take from this is that while Jupiter slowly moves in the background (it takes 2432.5 Earth days to orbit the Sun) Venus and Earth are moving in the same relative direction in their current orbits (Venus’ orbit is 224.7 days).

Greens use Dunedin to highlight major climate problem

The Greens have linked the heavy rain in Dunedin on Wednesday to climate change. In Question Time in Parliament yesterday Green co-leader Metiria Turei started with these questions.

1. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues : Does he agree that local authorities will face greater adaptation costs and find it more expensive to protect infrastructure and property as the climate changes; if not, why not?

A reasonable question – “as the climate changes” is debatable but most science suggests it may get warmer and with more extreme weather events.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister agree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change editor Professor Blair Fitzharris that as global warming continues, Dunedin is likely to face more extreme rainfall events, storm surges, and extreme winds, and that low-lying, densely populated areas, coastal communities, and major transport infrastructure, including Dunedin Airport, are particularly at risk?

These are important points that we would expect the Greens to raise.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister agree with Dunedin City Council’s submission on New Zealand’s climate change target, which says “More effective mitigation could significantly reduce potential future adaptation costs” and that “the Government should consider investing more in climate change mitigation”; if not, why not?

The Dunedin City Council is fairly Green leaning so this is no surprise. But it’s highly questionable whether the Government can do anything that would significantly alter any effects of climate change – New Zealand’s emissions are a very small proportion of global emissions and reducing emissions here by 40% as the Greens want is likely to make a very small difference at best.

Metiria Turei : How does the Minister justify the National Government’s record on climate change, which shows a 13 percent increase in net greenhouse gas emissions, to the people of Dunedin and to the Mayor of Dunedin, Dave Cull, who said today “There may be some areas with sea level rise that we end up retreating from and not putting any more infrastructure in and actually taking the buildings out of. That is the challenge going into the future with climate change.”?

That would be a major for Dunedin, which has large flat areas – reclaimed swamp – that are inhabited. These include South Dunedin, St Kilda and St Clair, plus much of the Taieri Plains. If Dunedin “retreated” from those areas it would more than decimate the city.

Metiria Turei : Is the Minister taking into account increased adaptation costs for local councils when determining New Zealand’s emissions reduction target, given that the Dunedin City Council estimates that engineering options to protect private property and infrastructure in high-risk areas against a 0.3 metre rise in the sea level will cost around $10 million, and that protection against a 1.6 metre rise in the sea level will cost around $150 million?

If these “increased adaptation costs” prove to be necessary it is going to be regardless of what New Zealand does with emissions. We have a minute effect on world climate systems.

Metiria Turei : By not taking urgent leadership on climate change, has his Government not abandoned the Dunedin City Council and the people of Dunedin to pick up the cost of more extreme rainfall events like yesterday, when the city was swamped in 24 hours by 2 months’ worth of rain, causing flooding, electricity outages, sewerage overflows, the evacuation of rest homes and schools, the Otago Peninsula being cut off, and which left the side of State Highway 1 “looking like a canal”?

Now Turei is trying to emotionally use a single weather event to criticise the Government and promote Green policy on climate change.

Yes, parts of the city were swamped – large parts of the city used to be swamp and have always been at risk of heavy rain accumulation.

“24 hours by 2 months’ worth of rain” is overstating things. On Wednesday there was 150-170 mm of rain. While it’s common for Dunedin to get 40-80 mm of rain in a month it’s not uncommon to get much more. For example:

  • April 2014 – 144.8 mm
  • June 2013 – 195.2 mm
  • May 2013 – 141.8 mm

So only two years ago there was 337 mm in two months.

  • May 2010 – 207 mm
  • June 2009 – 158.4 mm
  • May 2009 – 163 mm
  • June 2002 – 137.4 mm
  • May 2002 – 205.4 mm

So it’s quite common to get heavy rainfall at this time of year. In a single month there was more rain than there was on Wednesday.

  • January 2002 – 251 mm

2002 was a much wetter year than this year has been so far.

  • October 2001 – 164 mm

Source: University of Otago Weather Station

So while this week there was an abnormal amount of rain in a day the total over a month. Including this week’s downpour Metservice shows that rainfall in Dunedin over the last 31 days is just over 200 mm, that’s much higher than usual but not uncommon.

Turei’s last question:

Metiria Turei : Is the Minister not confirming by his dismissive attitude towards the science of climate change that someone is paying the cost of his doing nothing on this issue, and that this week that just happens to be the people of Dunedin?

The present and past Governments haven’t done nothing. They have done far less than the Greens want them to do. But the reality is that even if we eliminated all our emissions, wiped out all emitting animals from the country and reforested the whole country it is likely to have a negligible effect on the world climate.

New Zealand reducing emissions is necessary but in the whole scheme of things it would be little more than a token change, and not weather changing.

As part of the international community New Zealand needs to do something, and should do more than at present.

But Greens have a major problem – if they overstate weather events, if they link single local weather events to world wide climate and if they try to shame other parties into adopting their climate targets then they are likely to find it difficult to get co-operation.

Their over the top claims are more likely to repel rather than attract support for their ideals. Like this One News report:

Climate change and Government’s ‘inaction’ to blame for Dunedin’s 100-year-flood, say Greens

One News have chosen that headline on a rolling blog on the rain in Dunedin that covers many topics.

The Dunedin flood is a result of climate change and the Government’s “inaction” on the issue, the Green Party says.

“The flooding in Dunedin highlights that the National Government needs to stop being the problem and start being part of the solution on climate change,” Green Party local government spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

“Since National came to power in 2008, New Zealand’s net emissions have increased by 13 percent; the scientific consensus is that increasing emissions will cause more extreme weather events.”

Ms Sage said the Government should aim for an emission target reduction of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.”Last month it was Wellington. Yesterday it was Dunedin. What region will suffer next from a lack of strong, cross-party leadership on the climate?”

“Strong, cross-party leadership on the climate” – Green-speak for ‘do what we want’ – would have had no effect on flooding in different parts of the country.

At a recent climate change consultatin meeting in Dunedin two Dunedin councillors spoke:

Dunedin City councillor Aaron Hawkins also stood up to speak, his voice cracking.

”I want to acknowledge the anger that’s felt by my generation and people younger … that the question of even having children is such a moral and ethical dilemma.”

Hawkins is not speaking for “my generation and people younger”, he’s speaking for himself and like-minded Greens, a minority.

Cr Jinty MacTavish said the target of a 40% emissions reduction by 2030 many people in the room were calling for – and which was criticised as being inadequate by Prof Bob Lloyd earlier in the night – was a ”compromise”.

So claims for a 40% reduction are seen as a minimum by some.

And their claims are not universally supported. The ODT reports:

Don’t blame climate change for city deluge, weather experts say

The flooding in Dunedin on Wednesday was not caused by climate change, a University of Otago climatologist says.

”I think this is just a weather event,” Dr Nicolas Cullen, of the department of geography, said.

The Green Party and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull have been quick to link the downpour to climate change.

Dr Cullen cited a 1929 downpour of 220mm within 24 hours, and estimated Wednesday was a one-in-30-year event.

”This particular event is more related just to the weather patterns that developed over the period which allowed that frontal system to really hit Dunedin quite hard.”

”You tell me. It’s wrong,” Dr Cullen said when asked why it was called a 100-year event by the Dunedin City Council.

”I wouldn’t put this in the climate change basket too quickly.”

If the same rainfall happened every month for a year ”then we can start talking about climate change”.

The flood did, however, demonstrate the city’s potential vulnerability to sea level rise, he said.

So a climatologist disputes the claims of the Dunedin City Council politicians and the Green party.

Dunedin hydrologist Dave Stewart said his initial estimate of Wednesday’s flood was a one in 30-to-50 year event.

He had not had time to analyse the data, but rainfall at various sites ranged from 140mm to 180mm.

Mr Stewart was scathing about the DCC’s 100-year claim, saying he did not know how it arrived at the estimate.

He also dismissed the idea the event was linked with climate change.

And a hydrologist disputes the claims of the Dunedin City Council politicians and the Green party.

This highlights a major problem with climate change – exaggerations and unsupportable claims don’t help the Green case of action on reducing emissions. They make it easier to dismiss them as a bunch of extremist nutters.

A lot of rain

A freak weather system dumped a lot of rain on Dunedin yesterday. 174 mm of rain was recorded for the day, which is more than the record rainfall for June for Dunedin, 168 mm.

This is as reported by One News but the rainfall varied in different areas as did the recording. Metservice states 164 mm on the Dunedin weather page, and the University of Otago weather station lists 152 mm.

Regardless, there was a heap of rain in a day, especially for Dunedin where most rain is relatively light, and sustained heavy rain is uncommon.

This has already prompted claims of ‘climate change’. It may or may not be related. It was an unusual weather pattern that targeted Dunedin and surrounding areas.

DunedinInfraRedWeatherThis infrared photo from 3 am this morning still shows the system in place that swept wind and rain in towards the Dunedin region.

I watched a lot of this unfold yesterday from an elevated office. I left work early because I wanted to avoid travelling at dusk. I didn’t have any problems getting home but negotiated several semi-flooded parts of road and passed many torrents pouring down the West Harbour hillside. There were some minor slips that only just reached the road. This was probably one of the less scathed parts of the city.

After dark two drivers didn’t notice a wash out and crashed into it on the Peninsula – Road ‘disappeared’.

I know someone who had difficulty getting their kids home from school and ended up getting their ute swamped so they had to walk the last half kilometre.

We lost our power about midnight but it’s now restored, but others are still switched off.

We won’t find out the extent of damage until it gets light today but there will be a lot of cleaning up to do.

I’m not a meteorologist nor a climate scientist so will make no claim on what this momentary weather event means in the greater scheme of things, except that I think it’s impossible to be sure.

Dunedin earthquakes

I was woken up by a bit of a rumble on Monday night, it turned out to be a shallow 4.7 earthquake centred about 30 km west of Dunedin. We don’t get many local earthquakes and Dunedin is rated one of the lowest risk parts of New Zealand.

Usually if we get a shake it has come from further afield. We felt a few from Christchurch over the last few years, got enough of the recent Wanaka shake to feel it, and sometimes we share remnants of a Fiordland shake as well.

There have been a few minor shakes centred in the vicinity of  Dunedin over the years, with the largest recorded earthquake of 4.9 in 1974. That was centred offshore about 10 km south of St Clair. Since then there have been another eight 4.x quakes, several centred similar to the 1974 quake and another cluster to the west where Monday’s was.


Quake map from Geonet with magnitudes and dates added

That’s a low number of moderately sized quakes when compared to many other parts of New Zealand.

Om Monday’s quake:

Overnight quake shakes up Dunedin

The earthquake’s location was very close to a magnitude 4.0 quake last October. Last night’s quake is highlighted on the map shown on the right, with last October’s epicentre the other circle close by. As quakes in this part of New Zealand are uncommon, we wrote up a history of earthquakes that have affected Dunedin in the past.

Geonet’s write-up last year –  Dunedin’s shaky past?

Last night, Dunedin and the surrounding area got its first magnitude 4 earthquake in a long time. The M4.1 was widely felt throughout the Otago region, with more than 1,300 felt reports received by GeoNet. This earthquake may have been a bit of a surprise to some people as earthquakes simply aren’t that common in this part of the South Island.

But these have happened before. We dug through our earthquake files to find out more about Dunedin’s shaky past.

Q. How long ago was the last earthquake in Dunedin?

A. In 1991, a 4.1 struck off the south coast of Dunedin, near an area that had previously experienced a few Magnitude  4 earthquakes.

Q. What was the largest earthquake since 1960 in the Dunedin area?

A. The largest earthquake to occur in the area since 1960 was a 4.9 in 1974, which occurred in a similar area to the 1991 earthquake (see below).

Q. Have we had earthquakes in the same area as last night’s?

A. The earthquake that occurred last night (16 October 2014) was very similar to one that occurred in 1982; it was in almost the same location and depth.

Monday night’s quake was a similar depth and in virtually the same place as last year’s quake.

Dunedin is a quaint wee city and compared to more active parts of New Zealand the area has a quaint wee earthquake record.

By the time I woke up and realised that it was an earthquake on Monday night it was all over. I felt the two big ones from Christchurch (7.1 in 2010 and 6.3 in 2011) and they felt stronger, longer and were much more disconcerting.

Earthquakes can be fascinating but also quite worrying. We get a few wobbles in Dunedin but the worries and risks are much bigger elsewhere in the Shaky Isles.

One of the safest places in New Zealand

Dunedin is one of the safest places in New Zealand (when it comes to earthquakes, not quite so safe for students susceptible to alcohol induced self harm).

We’ve been getting a few shakes here over the past few years but it’s always been somewhere else that’s been getting the full force of the earth moving beneath us.

NZ Herald has a map of the relative risk zones in Big changes to earthquake strengthening rules.

Dunedin’s bountiful walking tracks

One of the things I really like about Dunedin is the number and variety of walking tracks. Apart from a dozen beaches that all have good walking options there are flat tracks, bush tracks and hill and mountain tracks.

I’ve walked many of them. There’s one for most occasions, as long as you’re dressed for it and have an appropriate level of fitness.

And while you often encounter other walkers you also often get to walk in relative solitude.

Dunedin City Council and the department of Conservation have launched a new brochure on Dunedin walks.

Councillor Jinty MacTavish has posted on Facebook:

This week the Dunedin City Council in conjunction with the Department of Conservation, launched the first print run of a rad new Dunedin walks brochure. There’s an online version, too, with details of popular walks in one handy location (see link below). It’s not perfect – there are parts of our beautiful city that this first edition doesn’t cover, and there may be favourite walks in Central Dunedin that also aren’t included. But it’s a really exciting first step, and staff would love to hear feedback from you all so they can make the next print version (in a couple of months time) even better…email for feedback is andrew.lonie@dcc.govt.nz.

The DCC website lists walk category links.

The Walking tracks page also has links to online brochures. It’s worth repeating here:

Related information

Some of Dunedin’s beaches and also on Virtual Tourist.

Dunedin anti development again

Dunedin already has a reputation for being anti-development, unless it’s University related, they seem to do what they like.

Mosgiel is the fastest growing part of Dunedin (one of the only growing parts). So Countdown applied for resource consent to build a supermarket there.

But a Dunedin City Council planner has recommended that consent be declined, as reported by ODT in Planner strikes a blow to proposal.

The recommendation comes on the basis the supermarket would have significant ”adverse affects” on the community.

The plan for a new Countdown on Gordon Rd, which was predicted to add 48 jobs, prompted concern among Mosgiel residents.

There were nine submissions against the development, citing increased traffic, pedestrian safety, noise and insufficient on-site parking among residents’ concerns, three submissions in support and six neutral.

I can imagine a Countdown supermarket might have an adverse effect on the profits of the existing New World supermarket, and sure it would effect traffic flows.

Council planner Amy Young’s opinion is one piece of evidence to be considered when the council’s hearings committee convenes to hear submissions next week.

In the report, Ms Young said she did not agree with Countdown’s argument the supermarket would maintain and enhance amenity values in what was a residential zone.

”I disagree with this statement and believe that the applicant has made no concessions in terms of designing a development that can integrate with, rather than dominate the residential environment.”

Ms Young also said Countdown’s application lacked detail about two other retail sites, pedestrian safety and residential amenity.

I thought a place to be food would be an essential residential amenity. And spreading out traffic and being closer to some parts of town would be an advantage.

It may be that Countdown has been not thorough enough in it’s application.

But on the surface this seems just another nail in Dunedin’s development coffin.

Sea lion invasion

I went for a walk on Allans beach on Otago Peninsula a couple of days ago. There were more sea lions there than I’ve seen before, some sunning themselves on the beach, some surfing the waves and some swimming in the Inlet channel.

AllansSealion1qSummer holiday

AllansSealion2A crowded Dunedin beach (sea lion emerging from the surf)

But a bit further south yesterday the St Clair hot water pool had a closer encounter. It’s becoming common to see sea lions on St Clair/St Kilda beaches now but through two sets of self opening doors and a cafe is bit different.

ODT: Pool re-opens after sea lion visit

NZ Herald: Warm pool wins sea lion’s heart

Time out from Dunedin

There’s a range of good options if you want time out form Dunedin, one of the benefits of living here. I decided to head away for a few days.

The weather forecast wasn’t so good southwards so decided against Catlins (a range of beaches, waterfalls, forest and walks), Stewart Island or Fiordland, all within less than half a day drive.

I’d been throught Central Otago last week to Omakau (races) and St Bathans (Blue Lake) – this drive takes you from coast, hinterland to dry and rocky terrain past three mountain ranges in two hours – so decided against that.

I thought of a longer trip to Akaroa, but decided to keep it shorter.

So we left Dunedin heading north for about an hour and then hung a left inland just before Oamaru, through some interesting countryside with scattered limestone features. We didn’t bother stopping at Elephant Rocks this time becasue we’d spent time there last time through, but it’s well worth some time especially with children.

Witihin an hour we stopped at Kurow, on the Waitaki river before the dams. There’s not a lot to do here except fishing, but we wanted to have lunch and wine tasting at Pasquale – great food and drink, plus very good service with excellent wine knowledge.

After that we wanted to stay the night. The motel is as dated as they come but the accommodation options are limited. However the pub steak meal at Kurow Hotel was a s good and as big as they get.

This morning we headed up river where you soon encounter the dams and lakes, first the smallest and oldest, Waitaki. Next Aviemore. Then we stopped in at Benmore and walked across and back. It’s still an impressive dam.

Then we headed up further to Omarama in time for a very long lunch at LadyBird Hill. There’s plenty to do to fill in a mostly leisurely afternoon. The one thing we skipped was catching a salmon from their stocked pond and waiting for them to smoke it and serve it. We did have their salmon lunch though, too much to eat.

We headed uphill on their walk to settle the food down and take in the mountain views which even from Omarama are spectactular. While we were climbing a procession of gliders and their tow planes took off from the airport and were let loose at a good thermal, where at one stage we saw a dozen gliders spiraling up into the blue sky (it was clear and hot but with a nice cooling breeze).

Then we went back down and did a wine tasting – they have small quantity wine options which have to be considered with the recent law changes but we were traveling on foot so it didn’t matter.

Several hours later we mooched back to a much better motel. Here we had to decide what to do next.

The weather looks probbaly good enough so tomorrow we’ll go to Mt Cook, about an hour’s drive along the shore of Lake Pukaki. We’ll spend the day there, probably doing the walk to the Tasman Glacier terminal lake.

Because high season rates are so high we decided to book the night at Lake Tekapo, about an hour’s drive. What we do there and afterwards we’ll decide when we get there. I’d love to do an astronomy tour but will leave that until winter. It doesn’t get dark properly here until about 11 pm at this time of year.

This is all three days in easy reach of Dunedin, and is just one of several very contrasting options available for an excursion.

We live in a very nice part of a very nice country. How many places in the world would have such a range of options so handy?


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