We woke up in beautiful Dunedin this morning with a big day ahead. Right after a yummy breakfast at our hotel, we had the unique opportunity to listen to Dr. Marion Johnson speak. Dr. Johnson is a Senior Scientist at the Future Farming Center in Lincoln, New Zealand. She spoke about the importance of using traditional ecological knowledge and combining it with modern technology to yield the most efficient, safest food products possible. As an animal scientist aware of the destruction the food industry has on the environment and sometimes even people, her lecture had me on the edge of my seat as she offered solutions, instead of only more problems.
After the lecture, we split up to enjoy some free time. I decided to visit the world-renowned Dunedin Botanical Gardens, which overlook Dunedin’s rolling hills. While they were really lovely, my favorite part was watching Sara, who has a fear of birds, feeding the ducks.
This afternoon was ah-mazing! We went on an Elm Wildlife Tour around the Otago Peninsula. The weather was crazy, but that didn’t stop us from getting up close and personal with New Zealand’s wildlife. It even started hailing on us as we were walking back from one of the beaches! Luck was on our side, however, because the rain cleared up long enough for us to experience some awesome animals. We saw New Zealand fur seals, sea lions, birds, Royal albatross and yellow-eyed penguins in the wild! At one point, as we were walking up to a sea lion on the beach, our guide started talking about the times he has been chased by one, which is not something you want to hear as you’re standing 10 feet from a big, sleepy sea lion. The yellow-eyed penguins are the rarest penguins in the world and we got to see at least five of them in their natural habitat-so cool! The Royal albatross is a massive bird with a wingspan of seven to nine feet. We were lucky enough to visit the only on-land nesting site of these birds!
Today was definitely my favorite day of the trip so far. Getting to speak with an expert in the farming methods field AND being so close to unique wildlife was incredible. I can’t wait to see what Australia has in store!
Kelly Fowler :)