Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Zealand's South Island: Otago Peninsula and Beyond

Taiaroa Head, site of The Royal Albatross Centre where the mighty birds nest, and Pilots Beach, home of the rare blue-eyed penguin.
Say it often enough as I've been doing and "awesome scenery" becomes ho-hum which is a problem in New Zealand, north or south islands. Almost everywhere you look IS spectacular and the Otago Peninsula is no exception.

This is bird territory - albatross, gannets, gulls and penguins, plus their partners in lolling, seals and sea lions. I go into details about them and where to see them and what it takes to see them in their native haunts in a previous post, In search of elusive New Zealand birds.

The Monarch is easy on, easy off, levelers and if you don't see an albatross flying your second trip is free.
I definitely recommend taking the Monarch Wildlife Cruise and visiting The Royal Albatross Centre, whether or not you hike up the very long hill to the gun emplacement viewing area. Had a lovely piece of fish for lunch in the Cafe there, the displays are interesting and the gift shop is a good one.

 

Overlook from Penguin Place tour.
 Penguin Place is also recommended depending on the time of year; the previous post linked to above will show you the best.

Ewe and lamb atop the overlook.
 One thing about Penguin Place, make the effort to go up the hill for the overlook and if you're lucky, a close encounter with a few sheep and fur seals enjoying the warm sun and soft grass. Odd because as a rule, fur seals prefer rocks for their sun bathing, sea lions sand.

Sunning fur seal
Next, The Catlins, Southern Scenic Route.

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