I spent yesterday evening watching rare blue penguins coming ashore behind the derelict rail goods yard by the harbour. The penguins are not particularly rare, but to see them adapting their lives to suit the remnants of industrial endeavour in the heart of a town is quite unusual, they scuttled up the beach and breakwater, had a quick breather before heading off to their nests under old warehouses and grain silos for a noisy reunion with their partners as it got dark. Back in the 50's the town tried to eliminate them due to the smell, but they are now well protected and numbers are increasing well.
Oamaru is a small town 1/3 down the east coast, built round a natural harbour and rather grand for its size. I am here for a week, helping sort out a garden at a rather smart B&B overlooking the town. Weeding and planting in the mornings and exploring the area on foot in the afternoons. Rather quiet compared to my previous location, but with plenty to do and see a good change. Unusually, most of the old town is constructed of stone, (there were no trees for construction) individual buildings taking on the appearance of ancient Rome or paris or London with huge pillars and grand fascades and entrances appearing much older that they really are, it makes a refreshing change from the usual low wooden frontier style buildings that line the main streets of many other smaller New Zealand towns.
Its definitely rural here. After watching the penguins and briefly chatting to some of the other watchers, i walked home through the centre of town at just gone 10.30 and in the 20 minutes it took me to get up the hill, saw two cars and no one else about at all. Pubs and restaurants had long closed and the town was definitely closed till the morning. Still, with the sun streaming in through the windows of my room from dawn, the daylight hours are definitely the best ones to enjoy when out in the sticks.
Another couple of days here then further south to Dunedin and maybe a bit of town life for a few days. We'll see.