Birds and boulders
Trip Start Oct 11, 2009
57Trip End Mar 18, 2010
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Olive Grove Holiday Park
Our first night we made it beyond Oamuru to a lovely holiday park, which continues to be the gold standard that nothing else quite measures up to. Rolling hills, a lazy river, and a cliff wall were our surroundings, and we were one of four vehicles there. Oamuru itself, the Whitestone city, was forgettable, but we didn’t slow down enough to give it a chance as it was windy and overcast
The morning dawned no clearer, but we pushed on to Moeraki, home to a group of serpentine nodules of unusual size. These boulder-like concretions, many of which are 2m across, formed in the sea cliffs and have gradually been eroded out and slump down to the beach, where the sea erodes them down further, revealing the veins of calcite which ultimately break down and crack open to reveal honeycomb like structures within. Magical. We wandered further down the beach (hoping the sun might break through the clouds) and found the cracked open remains of former smaller concretions as well as one that had not yet slumped down from the sea cliffs.
Just beyond, the town of Moeraki held many pleasures: Fleur’s place, an incredible restaurant serving only the fish brought in by the Moeraki fisherman; a yellow-crested penguin colony; fur seals lolling on a hillside, and loads of sea-birds. We waited 90 minutes for a table at Fleur’s (earning the first sunburns of the trip – apparently some UV made it through the clouds) but it was well worth it. I had an incredibly delicious whole blue cod with capers and almonds, while Daniel opted for a muttonbird, a common seabird that eats mostly fish (and tasted remarkably gamey, salty and oily – like a cross between the dark bit of a smoked mackerel fillet and liver)
In search of further wildlife, we drove down to the Otago Peninsula for our second night and a go at seeing the colony of the Royal Albatross there. The next morning was still wet and windy (great for albatross viewing though) and we were rewarded with some excellent soaring (3 meter wingspan!) and a view of three nesting birds. We learned a lot about these amazing creatures who only ever come to the coast to breed (most of their lives are spent at sea) and the incredible work done by the rangers to keep the colony alive and growing. With the sun still elusive, we headed into Dunedin and enjoyed an afternoon at the cinema, watching Wes Anderson’s movie of Roald Dahl’s 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox,’ which was delightful. The rain continued to follow us, so we headed west to the one place where it would almost certainly be raining, but where the rain would not interfere with the beauty of the landscape: Fiordland.