Penguins and “moving rocks” (NZ Eastcoast and Catlins)

Right, we are in the southern hemisphere and after spotting just only one penguin on the Galapagos islands, we went to Oamaru on the east coast of New Zealands south island to search for the smallest of all penguins (Blue Penguin) and an endangered species, the Yellow Eyed Penguins.

In Oamaru, someone realized a clever business case :
1. Buy some land where the penguins go on shore in the evening
2. Build a wall around the beach
3. Put a really bright light there
4. Sell tickets for penguin watching to tourists for 22 NZ Dollar each

Guess… right, we didn’t pay 22 Dollar each to see them… We had a look for typical nest places at the rocks on the cost where a lot of penguin pooh is around. And yes, we found quite a few, sitting in their nest together with their chicks – waiting for their partner to return in the evening from fishing…

Very cool. The remaining question was: where would the fishing penguins come on land? We saw a group of them swimming on the water, small in the beginning but growing in sizeā€¦

It took much longer than expected the penguins where swimming, waiting, swimming and it was getting really cold… Then, a small group checked the beach, but went back into the water immediately. No clue, why… After another half an hour, finally, the whole group went to the beach and they were running like crazy to their nests. The show lasted for approx. 30 seconds only…

After this show we went to our super nice and cozy hostel (“Old Bones Backpackers”*smiley winking* and had a gourmet dinner with very good New Zealand wine to get warm again

Next day, we went to another beach, to have a look for the much taller Yellow Eyed Penguins. They are endangered and in this season only about 6 pairs nest at the beach in Oamaru but we were lucky and saw some of them. They are really funny to watch when they walk

The beach was really nice!

There were so many shells (also the beautiful Pauna Shell) but the water was freezing and the wind came from south (over here that’s not some mild Mediteranean breeze, but freezing cold wind from Antarctica), so don’t even think of T-Shirt and flip flops… Right, I was wearing sneakers, collecting shells and didn’t pay attention of anything around me. These mother of pearl of the Pauna Shells shine in lots of different colours – a dream!!! Just imagine the situation, on shell here, another one even more beautiful just right there were the wave was going back… Yes, got it, ohhhhh, the wave is coming back, but this one is much higher, so much higher… my long trousers and sneakers… run… run faster, water is coming, ohhhh, quick… watch out, there is a rock… the rock lifted its head and didn’t look amused… BIG SMILE… it was a huge male fur seal, they weight up to 200kg and this one was huge… I was shocked as I didn’t expect the rock to move and the poor seal was afraid that I would step on him… And right, this was exactly what I intended to do before I discovered my mistake… Long story short, my feet stayed dry without climbing on something, the seal relaxed very quickly and continued its siesta – and I took a photo

The day of climbing on rocks was not over… There were some huge boulders at another beach…

In the evening, we met Bernd and Christian in Dunedin for a cool pub tour with lots of fun and some intense inter cultural exchange…

Apart from the pubs, Dunedin has attractions like a nice railway station, old steam locomotives, the world’s steepest street and that’s basically it, so we headed further south to the Catlins – a very scenic region with a very high sheep-to-men ratio…

There are countless beautiful bays, again some with penguins, one with a petrified forest, thousands of sheep, tiny streets and…

After a lot of driving we finally arrived in Te Anau – the place to park the car and leave most of our things for the next days, as we wanted to walk the Milford Track for four days…

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