Otago

15 March, 2015 – Otago Peninsula

Green and gold under blue sky. Sheep and cows along the way. A patch of fog above an unseen river. Low hills in the distance. And so the morning rolled by on my way from Te Anau to Dunedin.

I read somewhere that 50% of New Zealand is covered with non-native grasses. After all the pastureland I saw today, I believe it. I encountered my first motorway, a divided freeway, just outside Dunedin. Signal lights and one-way streets, get me out of here! (As a city resident, I get habituated to a level of stress that I don’t notice until I get away and return to it).

When I arrived, my airbnb hosts kindly let me take a short mid-day nap. That refreshed me enough to head into town for a quick visit. Most of the galleries and many of the shops are closed on Sundays, so I wasn’t tempted to stay long. After a short walk-around, I drove out to the tip of Otago Peninsula, along a windy road that hugs the coast. My primary purpose was to visit the Penguin Place and see the rare Yellow-eyed Penguins. Most of them are at sea at this time a year, but I saw several on land molting and got to visit the penguin “hospital” where injured penguins are recovering.

On my way back, I stopped in Portobello for a tasty meal at a pub (salad with a fish cake and a black beer). This looks like a nice place to stay and explore the peninsula. If I had longer, I’d go on an albatross tour and also try to find the blue-eyed penguins.

16 March – Cold Beaches and More Penguins

Oh no, my mind is going! This morning I put an electric water kettle on the stove almost causing a fire. I wish I could claim lack of sleep, but I slept soundly last night. Instead, I’ll defend myself by stating that it looks a lot like the one I use on my stove every day at home.

I made two great stops on my way from Dunedin to Omarama today. The first was at Katiki Point to see more yellow-eyed penguins. Near the lighthouse on this beautiful windy point is a penguin preserve. It’s free and open to the public, though donations are requested. I saw more penguins than yesterday and so many seals I had to walk around them. It was also very cold and I wore more layers than I have yet on this trip.

My second stop was just a short distance up the road at Moeraki is see a boulder strewn beach. It was high tide, so I didn’t get to see as many of the round bowling ball like rocks as I would at low tide, but the sea had washed up a beautiful collection of seaweed.

I made a couple other quick stops along the way to stretch my legs. It remained cold, overcast, and a bit windy all day, perhaps residual affect of the storm that hit the north island early today. I took a tour of town, which takes about ten minutes, and then spent much of the afternoon and evening catching up on photos. I ventured across the road for dinner at a very noisy restaurant filled with tour groups.

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