New Zealand Day Thirteen: A Yellow-Eyed Penguin And A Tour Of The Otago Peninsula

New Zealand Day Thirteen: A Yellow-Eyed Penguin And A Tour Of The Otago Peninsula

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One of the highlights of my trip to Stewart Island was seeing a crested penguin in the wild. I now only needed to see a rare yellow-eyed penguin to have observed all of the major species of penguins on the planet.  And I was hoping to do that on my tour of the Otago Peninsula in the afternoon.road from Dunedin to Otago Peninsula

The tour bus from the Monarch Wildlife Tour I booked  left  the  Dunedin Visitor Center iSITE at 1:15. There were about twenty people on the  tour. We left the city and crossed the narrow isthmus that connected the it to the Otago Peninsula.road on Otago Peninsula

Once again the guide was great. He  provided us with information about the geology, flora, fauna and history of the peninsula, both the native  Maori and  early European   settlers. We listened as we   left the suburbs of Dunedin on the western end of the peninsula. The hills were now  sparsely populated  and used mostly for sheep farming.  rural road on Otago Peninsula

The bus stopped a few times to allow us to  take photographs of the scenery.  The peninsula forms  a long narrow harbor between the mainland and  the Pacific Ocean. This is a view of  the Dunedin sports complex I visited the day before. view of Dunedin from Otago Peninsula

We learned about the history of the first settlers on the peninsula as we drove along the winding roads. 

road on Otago Peninsula The bus stopped for a break in the small village of Portobello. With about a 1000 residents it is the largest community on the peninsula. I would love to spend a couple of weeks here. bus stop in Portobello

We drove onward to the tip of the peninsula were the royal albatross colony is located. Otago Peninsula

We stopped again for a break. Our tour did not include a visit to the albatross colony. Otago Peninsula

I was told we would get better views of the birds from the harbor cruise. I still had some time to get a quick look at the visitor center.  Here is a link to a gallery with more photos from my bus ride. New Zealand day Thirteen Otago Peninsula bus ride.

We next drove to Penguin Place, the yellow-eyed penguin conservation reserve. We were shown a short presentation about the work of the preserve.

The yellow-eyed penguin is the most ancient and rarest  species of penguin. Only around 4000 remain and they are in danger of extinction.  The destruction of the native vegetation, rising oceans and commercial fishing have  devastated the local population of these penguins.

We were taken to a penguin hospital were sick and injured yellow-eyed penguins are treated.

It was a noisy place and smelly place but I love penguins and enjoyed every minute of my visit.

The preserve also cares for other species of penguins, including crested and rockhopper penguins. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos  from the penguin hospital New Zealand Day Thirteen.

After our visit to the penguin hospital we walked to the spectacular  beach where the penguins live.

Our guide showed us many of the native plants and flowers on our walk to the beach.native flower

It was daytime and the penguins are usually active only at night. They  are rarely seen on the beach in the day. We did see some seagull and fur seals on the beach.fur seal on beach

We entered one viewing area and our guide was delighted to see a juvenile yellow-eyed penguin on the shore in the daytime. yellow-eyed penguin

Fortunate we were to see one of these birds in the wild during the day. I was elated. I have viewed all of the major species of penguins in their native environment! Here is a link to a gallery with more photos of the yellow-eyed penguin. New Zealand Day Thirteen. Yellow-eyed penguin. yellow-eyed penguin

We couldn’t stay long. We had to get to the dock for a boat  watching excursion in the harbor. Here is a link to some more photos from the New Zealand  Day Thirteen: Penguin Place Preserve.

We drove to the dock just in time to board our boat for a wildlife tour of the Peninsula. This was another highlight of my three weeks in New Zealand.

The captain, once again,  was very  helpful in familiarizing  us with the local wildlife. His eyesight was amazing. He almost immediately  spotted a blue penguin swimming in the ocean.  He provided us with so much information about the penguins as we watched the little fellow swim near the boat.

He piloted our boat  beneath the huge cliffs of the peninsula.

As we approached the royal albatross colony we  watched this magnificent birds soar over our boat.royal albatross in flight

 It was a truly wonderful experience for anyone, and especially so for a nature lover like me. royal albatross in flight

We also saw fur seals sunning themselves on the rocks,fur seal on rock

including this mother with her young pup. Here is a link to a gallery of more photos of the seals. New Zealand Day Thirteen fur seals. February 18 2019. fur seal and pup

We also saw shags, terns, herons and many other birds on our tour near the royal albatross colony and our ride back to Dunedin. Here is a link to a gallery with some more of these photographs. New Zealand Day Thirteen: Otago Peninsula: birds February 18 penguin swimming

The tour boat dropped off some of our passengers at the dock. I was taking the boat back to Dunedin in the long harbor.ancient volcano in harbor

It was a pleasant voyage.  We passed large cruise ships, as well ascruise ship in harbor

cargo ships.cargo ship in harbor

Our education of the Otago Peninsula continued.  I learned so much about this beautiful part of New Zealand’s South Island.  otago harbor

It was near sunset when we arrived at the dock in Dunedin. It was a long day, I was tired and had a very early flight the next morning. However, I  was more hungry than tired and decided to eat at the fine dining restaurant Bacchus. Here is a link to a gallery with more photos from my harbor cruise. New Zealand Day Thirteen. Otago Harbor cruise February 18 2019. entrance to Bacchus restaurant

It was a good decision, I enjoyed my meat of local fish and vegetables. I walked back to my hotel, packed, and made arrangements for a taxi at 4:30 a.m. It was sad leaving the South Island but also excited to explore the North Island. First stop Rotorua. local fish dinner

Penguins are an indicator of the health of our watery planet, and if they are unable to survive, we had better take notice, or we may find our own survival threatened. Roger Tory Peterson

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