Penguins, sea lions and beaches

Trip Start May 24, 2010
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Trip End Jun 13, 2011


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Where I stayed
Portobello

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, March 17, 2011

A short drive from Dunedin lies the Otago Peninsula. The weather was perfect and we began the drive up the winding coast road of the peninsula. Our first stop was the Albatross centre at the far end of the peninsula. We stopped for a picnic lunch and watched out for large albatrosses circling overhead. These big birds with their enormous wingspan barely flap at all. Apparently they only fly when it's windy enough, otherwise they can't generate the lift to leave the ground.

After our Albatross encounter we went in search of the peninsula's other famous resident; the yellow-eyed penguin. One of the rarest in the world. We heard that the best place to see them is at Sandfly Bay and so we drove the steep and incredibly scenic road across the peninsula to the ocean on the other side. There was a 40 minute walk to the viewing hut for the penguins. Sandfly Bay is a really pretty beach with sand dunes and big waves, making the walk very enjoyable. Half way across the beach Jenny let out a high pitched squeal as we suddenly seemed to find ourselves within mitres of two very large slumbering sea lions. They seemed to ignore us as we wandered by. A short walk up to the look-out hut and we were looking out towards the cliffs on the edge of the beach where two yellow-eyed penguins were slowly clambering up to their nests after a hard days fishing.

We drove back to our campsite in Portobello before the weather closed in and the rain came.
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