November 19th, 2014 / posted by paularath
The yellow-eyed penguin of New Zealand

The yellow-eyed penguin of New Zealand.             Photos by Jerry Mayfield

Hooker sea lions sniffing around.

Hooker sea lions sniffing around.

 

It’s about an hour’s drive from Dunedin and a pretty steep hike to get there, but Jerry and I thought the visit to see the penguins, sea lions, albatross and fur seals was well worth the time and effort. f you’re anywhere near Dunedin, don’t miss it!

On the way to the peninsula, we saw an astonishing array of bird life: black swans, kingfishers, pukeko, herons, oyster catchers, harriers terns and of course the huge and inspiring albatross.

Baaahhh adorable

Baaahhh adorable

There are 35 million sheep in New Zealand and we saw thousands along the drive to the Albatross & Nature Center, but I had to show you just one mum and baby. It’s late spring in New Zealand so the lambs are about six weeks old now and so precious!

We had incredibly good luck with our wild life viewing. We saw three Hooker Sea Lions on the beach at one time. We watched two of them flop up from the water and have a little confrontation with another who had already established himself there. At first there was a scuffle (one might even call it a fight) and then they were just sort of nosing around one another. We were so close we had to prepare to run in case they headed our way.

Perhaps the best photo op, however, was so enchanting that I didn’t even take a photo. Sorry about that! A little yellow-eyed penguin waddled right up to a sheep and nuzzled its nose. Where on this glorious earth would you ever see that?

I also saw the precious Blue Penguins in their nests sleeping, but you can’t really get a photo of them. Trust me, they’re really cute!

And here’s Jerry’s shot of an albatross flying right above us:

Albatross single

 

Next up: We travel from Dunedin to Wanaka, a journey of about four hours through NZ countryside.

– Paula Rath

 

 

 

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