Dunedin - Marine Research Station - Moeraki Boulders - Oamaru - Penguins!
Interesting tour, saw a few sea-horses (some courting), phyto plankton under the microscope and realised we probably swallow these when we swim in the sea (YUK), sea cucumbers, native fish, small sharks and that sort of thing. Interesting tour which ended with a play in the "touch tank" where we got to poke star fish and sea cucumbers and velvety molluscs.
We then headed over to the Albatross Colony, only to find lots of construction work going on and the Albatross viewing closed for the courting period. Cafe was fortunately opened and is still very good! A quick stroll down to the seal beach and time for another arty photo...
Not to mention another odd brothers shot
Once again, note differences in height, hair and style
Then we jumped in the car and wended our way off the peninsula and up the coast to the Moeraki Boulders, which transpired to be another excuse for a photo opportunity.
AM on funny rocks
Doug jumps from driftwood!
Three wise monkeys
Hatching photo (I bet nobody thought of that before!)
After so much silliness we headed further up the coast to see some penguins in Oamaru. Early in the evening, the Yellow-eyed penguin colony comes ashore in one sheltered bay (they then climb up the hillside and hide amongst the trees. We didnt have to wait long to see the first of the penguins waddle ashore. Always impressed by these!
Then we drove 5 minutes to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony for an impressive display. The colony's habitat is managed to protect the penguins and at the same time allow tourist to see them. The Penguins come ashore after dusk, sometimes followed by a Hooker sealion, and unfortunately a couple of domestic cats the night we were there. The penguins waddle in from the sea in groups, whilst waiting penguins wander out to meet them. Much noise follows as they reacquaint themselves and throughout the night we are told.
This eco-tourism is closely monitored and this colony in particular is a useful control group, which is demonstrating greater breeding success than other groups without this kind of human contact so it seems the tourism is not damaging at a basic level. Sure was a good show though!
Blue penguins coming home for the night
Driving out of the colony we had to be careful to watch for penguins on the road, as you can see.
After that spectacular we were a bit chilly and hungry so headed back into town for a curry. We were lucky to find them open at this late hour (after 9) - the staff there were amazed to hear tell of Indian Restaurants open for business at 11pm at night in the UK!!! Again, another night in a decent motel followed.