University of Otago and Dunedin!

The past several weeks have really flown by here.  My first week in New Zealand was spent working at the University of Otago in Dunedin where my adviser is taking his sabbatical.  My work in Otago is slightly different from what I was doing in Antarctica (and it is much more lab-based).  

While in Dunedin I am staying with my adviser who lives on Baldwin Street.  This modest little street’s claim to fame is that it is literally the steepest street in the world at a 35% gradient!  As we turned the corner to Baldwin after Yo picked me up at the train station, I was at a loss for words.  Pictures do not do it justice.  However, it is pretty funny to see the sharp angle of fences and houses that line the streets.

A cat on Baldwin Street, posed on a fence post.  Note the angle of the fence!!

A cat on Baldwin Street, posed on a fence post.  Note the angle of the fence!!

My mom standing on Baldwin St.

My mom standing on Baldwin St.

An extremely angled fence on Baldwin St.

An extremely angled fence on Baldwin St.

Gorgeous sunset in Dunedin from the top of Baldwin St.

Gorgeous sunset in Dunedin from the top of Baldwin St.

This past week my mother arrived to hang out with me a bit before her race in Taupo, NZ (she’s racing the ironman in about a month!)  This past weekend, we decided to get out of Dunedin a bit to visit the Moeraki boulders.  These rocks are truly unique.  They form as calcite concretions due to calcite precipitation around any bit of material such as a shell, piece of wood, or fossils, which acts as a seed crystal that encourages mineral precipitation.  Concretions by definition are sedimentary rock (ie. mudstone, sandstone, etc) that has mineral cement (in this case calcite) that forms between the grains.

The Moeraki boulders are up to 2 meters in diameter and commonly form calcite, and less commonly dolomite or quartz, veins throughout the boulders.  It was interesting to hike up along the dunes behind the beach, where you can see partially exhumed boulder in the mudstone.  As the elements continue to weather the rock unit, the boulders will continue to roll out onto the beach!But yes, you are probably saying, “enough science now, I want some pictures!”

Not a boulder -- just a really pretty piece of seaweed attached to a rock washed ashore.

Not a boulder -- just a really pretty piece of seaweed attached to a rock washed ashore.

A perfect sphere amidst the broken remains of many eroded Moeraki Boulders!

A perfect sphere amidst the broken remains of many eroded Moeraki Boulders!

Perfect ball markers out to the sea

Perfect ball markers out to the sea

The top of this boulder eroded away and the bottom half is buried in the sand.  It actually looks a little bit like some type of alien eggs!

The top of this boulder eroded away and the bottom half is buried in the sand.  It actually looks a little bit like some type of alien eggs!

There interior of a partially broken boulder

There interior of a partially broken boulder

A parting shot of the boulders

A parting shot of the boulders

Finally, one of my co-workers at the University of Otago (affectionally called the "Uni") said that any trip to Dunedin is not complete without at tour of the Speight's Beer Factory.  Speights Beer is "the pride of the South" and is ubiquitous throughout the South Island! So, after work last week, we went to take a tour of the brewery.  It was actually pretty interesting to see all of the stages of beer brewing, from mineral spring (where speights gets the waters for its beer) to the bottle! 

Bags and bags of malt

Bags and bags of malt

Giant copper basins to cook down the malt

Giant copper basins to cook down the malt

The beer barrel chimmney at the Speight's factory.  The story behind the tower is that the architect's assistant doodled a beer barrel on top of the smoke stack as a joke.  However, the architect unknowingly took the plans to present to Mr. Speights who loved the design!

The beer barrel chimmney at the Speight's factory.  The story behind the tower is that the architect's assistant doodled a beer barrel on top of the smoke stack as a joke.  However, the architect unknowingly took the plans to present to Mr. Speights who loved the design!

This is a picture of an old picture of how the malt used to be stored.  At some point the factory had a really bad case of mice.  Cats were introduced to get rid of the mice, but the cats had kittens and continued to multiply!  Can you spot the kitten in this picture?

This is a picture of an old picture of how the malt used to be stored.  At some point the factory had a really bad case of mice.  Cats were introduced to get rid of the mice, but the cats had kittens and continued to multiply!  Can you spot the kitten in this picture?

Posted on February 3, 2011 .