Up Close and Personal with Yellow-eyed Penguins
Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
84Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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This was a beautiful, mostly coastal drive South with several awesome view points along the way.
We also stopped at the Moeraki boulders, a number of spherical rocks lining the beach in one particular area not too far from Dunedin. They were formed in the cooling process of volcanic activity so we thought they were worth a quick photo stop then on to Dunedin.
We didn't spend too long in Dunedin itself which was a shame as it is an awesome little City. Had we not been in a Campervan we definitely would have liked to spend a few days in Dunedin checking out the nightlife and seeing more of the city sights
As we had parking limitations, we just spent a couple of hours doing our own walking tour to see the scenic railway station and some of the other Victorian buildings in the centre of the city. Dunedin prides itself on it's Scottish roots and you see all sorts of Scottish themed places, street names and even a bagpipe player outside the station. Apparently Dunedin is the Gaelic word for Edinburgh... go figure!
We also paid a visit to a site that put Dunedin in the Guinness book of records, the Worlds steepest road. We decided not to put the campers brakes to the test so instead walked up and I can confirm that it is very steep. It's quite a funny tourist attraction and you feel like such a weirdo because you're just stood outside people's houses leaning far forward and taking loads of photos. You look a bit mental! But we're tourists and it has to be done!
So after seeing the city we drove out to the Otago peninsular and this was the bit Katy was particularly excited about because we were going to see her favourite animal, Penguins
The Otago peninsular is home to seals, sea lions, an albatross colony and a colony of yellow eyed penguins. These are the second rarest and most endangered penguins in the world. Apparently they are also the penguin that has been in the world longest and we had booked to go on a tour to see them.
Our guide was a very enthusiastic Penguin fan and has lived on the Otago Peninsular her whole life. She took us to see a few Penguins who were being cared for at the Penguin hospital which I was imagining to be an indoor facility with a veterinary surgery, but it was just a fenced in square with some Penguins in (None-the-less very cool).
Then it was down to the beach to see them in their usual habitat, a Penguin sanctuary with a series of trenches and bunkers for us to navigate around and see them up-close undetected.
The yellow eyed penguins are very private and solitary so if they saw us they would hide away. This meant that we had to tip toe around and whisper whilst we wondered through these bunkers and taking photos when we saw a penguin
Most of the penguins there were Juveniles as the parents were out fishing and they still had some patches of their tufty baby feathers which made them look a bit like punks. They were very cute!
During our tour of the beach we also saw the New Zealand fur seals and fairy (little blue) penguins so it was well worth the trip out plus the area was of course very beautiful just like everywhere else in New Zealand.
So that's it for the East coast, now we head over to the West coast of south Island for more rugged countryside, mountains, lakes and Glaciers!