I am in Dunedin and have a few internet minutes.  The
trip is still mind-boggling. I am sure I will calm
down in a few days and not feel the pressing need to
bombard you all with such frequent letters!

Our travels took us to the South island where we spent
our first night in Picton (looked very similar to
Skagway!). We journeyed on to the coast to Kaikoura
and had the opportunity to rise at dawn and swim with
wild dolphins in the ocean! It was mesmerizing.

We woke at 5am and put on freezing cold wetsuits. I
was sea-sick on the speed boat but it was soon all
worthwhile. These dusky dolphins enjoy their human
interaction and found us to be something of a
curiosity. After several sweeps, swimming in circles
around all of us in snorkel gear, a few responded to
my high-pitched singing in the water, and swam right up
to me. Looking beneath me, I saw dolphins brush right
by my skin, a calf and its mother twisting and
tumbling below me. One dolphin stared me right in the
eye as we swam together in a large circle for what
must have been eight repetitions. I couldn't believe
that they could be so close and so real....
Breathtakingly beautiful.

Back on the ship we had an hour or so watching them
"perform" including their magnificent acrobatics
(apparently, dolphins are one of the few other animals
in the world who have sex for fun; the guide said that
dolphins nearly always leap and spin right after
finishing the sexual act which is participated in
frequently and with multiple partners!)

On from Kaikoura, we travelled south to a wilderness
camp below Mt. Cook - one of the most spectacular
mountains I have ever seen. I have been cycling a lot
on this tour 20 or 30k a day, and its really been a
great way to see the countryside off of the bus!
Yesterday we took a hike in Mt Cook National Park to
Hooker Lake; again, scenery and weather could not have
been more satisfying.

And I am finally feeling a little better...Thank
goodness! Went to the doctor in Christchurch where I
was prescribed steroids for inflamed bronchial
passages. They seem to be working...Got the rib put
back in too - but my back is so messed up its just a
matter of time before it falls out again. I've bought
a Theraband to do my physical therapy as prevention!

The physical pain has been quite a downer, but I am
trying hard to enjoy myself nonetheless, and with such
a great country and group to enjoy; its been easier
than it might have been.

Last night, Giovanna and I went on a tour of a Penguin
Colony in Oamaru on the coast. We sat on a beach as
the sun went down and watched over 80 of the little
darlings waddling out of the ocean. They were so
cute, you just wanted to nuzzle one of them. That was
a highlight.

Today we are in Dunedin; a beautiful seaside town that
looks and feels very scottish.(the bus overheated on
the way here; it was very exciting, flames and
everything on the side of the road!)... I still have a
date with coffee and cake, the photo shop, and a hat
shop, so I better go for now!

Going on a 3 day "tramp" in Fjordland next, so the
next update will be from Queenstown!