March 22, 2015 Dunedin and Invercargill, New Zealand

After our visit to Mount Cook we stayed overnight in Timaru.  The next morning we drove towards Dunedin.  Along the way we passed the 45 parallel south which meant we were now closer to the South Pole than the PicsArt_1427353374559equator. We stopped at Katiki Point because our tour  book said we might be able to spot some yellow eyed penguins, the rarest and most endangered penguins in the world and native to New Zealand.   One of our goals while in New Zealand was to see penguins, preferably in the wild in their natural habitat.
We parked and began to walk along the beautiful coastline toward the point.  Suddenly Bill stopped and motioned toward a bushy area.  There, a few feet away, were two yellow eyed penguins.  So exciting!!  They are now at the time of year when they are molting, so they looked a little different from what you might PicsArt_1427256961287expect.  At first we barely moved and didn’t utter a sound for fear of scaring them away.  Once Bill took some pictures we moved closer down the path and they didn’t appear at all afraid of us.  This area is a highly protected reserve and we think they have become accustomed to people and know they have nothing to fear.  The area is under video surveillance and everyone is expected to follow the rules or face stiff penalties.
We proceeded down the trail and came upon one more penguin closer to the rocky shoreline.  What was really neat was there was also a fur seal not far from the penguin so we were able to get a picture of them together.PicsArt_1427257185593PicsArt_1427257249842
We walked to the end of the point passing by huge fur seals lounging on the rocks and upper hillsides.  We could have literally stepped over the seals and they would have cared less.  We enjoyed the view at the end of the point and walked back to the car, so pleased with our penguin discoveries.PicsArt_1427257784210PicsArt_1427257845710

Along the way to Dunedin we saw breathtaking views of the ocean with sheep grazing along the cliffs and people on horseback riding on the beach.   As we crested the top of a steep hill, we had a breathtaking view of the Dunedin nestled next to the ocean.  The first European settlers were Scottish settlers who arrived in 1848. It was originally named New Edinburgh but the name was changed to Dunedin which is an old Celtic name for Edinburgh.

“The people are Scotch.  They stopped here on their way from home to heaven, thinking they had arrived.” Mark Twain
Nearby goldfields generated wealth in the area and New Zealand’s first university, the University of Otago, was established here.  The discovery of gold encouraged the arrival of Chinese miners and by 1871 there were over 4,000 Chinese miners in the area.  Many settled permanently in Dunedin and are an important part of the community today.
We arrived in Dunedin late in the day since our penguin adventure took longer than expected.  We didn’t really have much time to explore the city before dark.  We did drive to Baldwin Street which is named in the Guiness Book of Records as the steepest street in the world.  The street runs from 98 feet above sea level to 330 feet above sea level with a slope of between 20% to 35%. The lower part of the street is asphalt but the upper reaches of the street, which is the steepest, is surfaced in concrete for safety on frosty mornings.2015-03-28_04-36-142015-03-28_04-35-56
Dunedin is often called the eco-capital of the world because of all the nature and wildlife in the area.  The Dunedin Railway Station is said to be the most photographed building in New Zealand.
I wish we had had more time to explore this charming city with its beautiful old Victorian and Edwardian buildings.
Next we headed to Invercargill.  Along the way our tour book suggested we stop by Nugget Point Lighthouse, which is the most photographed lighthouse on the South Island and a location often seen on postcards andPicsArt_1427258167378PicsArt_1427258384986 brochures of New Zealand.  The book said it was possible to see penguins here, though the best time to see them was between 5 and 6 PM  We saw a hide which is a little structure where people can hide so they can see the penguins but they don’t see us. It was early afternoon and we didn’t want to wait around that long since we still had a long drive to Invercargill.  We did trudge to the end of the trail where the lonely lighthouse sat on the edge of a PicsArt_1427258454378rocky cliff.  We enjoyed talking with a couple visiting from England.
Our time in Invercargill was short but Bill did have time to visit the E Hayes Motorworks Collection where there is a remarkable vintage motorcycle and car collection, but more importantly the world’s fastest motorcycle.  Ben Munro, built the World’s Fastest Indian, was born near Invercargill.  In 1920 he bought a Indian motorbike for $120 which he modified and tuned to a record of 190.07 mph, a world record.PicsArt_1427258753624PicsArt_1427258809437PicsArt_1427258654232PicsArt_1427258519862in 2005 the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian” was released and starred Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro.
Also while in Invercargill we spent one day on another penguin hunting adventure.  Using the tour book tip of best places to look, we first headed to the most southern point in all of New Zealand. Here we were the closest we would get to Antarctica.  While hiking to the point we walked in a field of sheep who at one point trotted ahead of us as if showing us the way.  I tried to get a picture of them up close with Bill but they were very skittish.PicsArt_1427258895661PicsArt_1427258977231PicsArt_1427259017269PicsArt_1427259083780
We intentionally set out late in the day because the best time to see penguins is around dusk when they swim back to shore to their nest after being at sea ALL DAY.  We joined a throng of people waiting anxiously PicsArt_1427259121841for their arrival in a roped off area with a DOC (Department of Conservation) employee there to be sure everyone followed the rules.  We had to stay behind the yellow ropes and no flash photography because they think it hurts the penguins eyes.  We waited an hour PicsArt_1427259916676and a half in a very cold drizzle until we were rewarded with one penguin fairly far away.  Just as we were about to give up someone spotted another one closer.  He washed up on shore and then proceeded to hop across some rocks and then stop and preen.  After watching him for awhile it was getting dark, we were pretty wet and really cold, and we had over an hour’s drive back to the motel.  Was it worth the hour and a half wait in the cold and rain?  Absolutely!!PicsArt_1427445322474PicsArt_1427444362975PicsArt_1427446952935PicsArt_1427445192178
Some observations:
We noticed many trucks with an engine breathing apparatus (snorkel).  Evidently they like to take their trucks and play in the water and need this engine snorkel.PicsArt_1427258088107
You occasionally see a business or house for sale, you never see land for sale.
It is strange to see deer fenced in.  We are used to seeing them only running wild.  Bill has enjoyed eating lamb and venison in New Zealand. Wild deer can be hunted year round.
The motel guest laundry and laundromats use cold water only.  This totally freaks out a germ freak like me!
We are enjoying meeting and talking with people from other countries around the world.  There are many tourists here from Australia, France, Germany and Japan.

Leave a Reply