Otago Peninsula

From Larnach’s Castle we headed further into the Otago Peninsula to do some wildlife spotting. On our way to the Royal Albatross Center we saw an owl and had to make a pitstop

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When we finally made it to the Royal Albatross Center, we were brought to their viewing platform.  The center is the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross.

At our time of arrival, the eggs are being incubated by a parent at all times.  We were hoping to see one flying off the cliffs, but they were all incubating their eggs.  We did see a ranger check out an adolescent couple, which made them stand up in indignation, but we didn’t get any in flight.  With a 3 meter long wingspan, we’ve been told we would know if we saw one.  We did get fantastic views of the water, and we did get to see some fluffy baby seagulls.

From here we moved on to Penguin Place – a penguin conservation area and rehabilitation center. The majority of penguins here are yellow-eyed, the only anti-social penguin.  If they spend too much time with humans (more than 6 weeks) they will start to die, and they will only mate in private.

We saw our first penguin at their hospital.

As we moved into the conservation site, we got fantastic views of the water and beach, and saw some surprising guests along the way.

This is the time of year both penguin parents are out catching food for their young.  We weren’t able to see them returning from the sea, but one little guy was hiding right by the viewing area, so we got a great view of him!  At 4 months old he hasn’t developed the yellow stripe around his eyes yet.

Here’s a fun penguin story.  His parents are quite old for penguins, and his dad seems to be over raising kids anymore.  In the beginning, one parent is always with the chick while the other parent looks for food, and then they switch roles.  At some point they decide the chick is old enough to stay alone, put him in a new nest (so predators won’t smell him), and both parents go out for food.

When the mom got home from catching food, she found the chick and father at a new nest.  She grabbed the chick, brought him back to the old nest, and turned her back to her husband.  Usually they preen each other but he was in the dog house! This occurred for 2 weeks, until the mom finally decided he was old enough to stay on his own.

Lastly we got on a boat.  We had a one-hour wildlife cruise, and then stayed on the boat and had an hour long cruise to Dunedin’s city center. We saw seals and birds, and even had some albatross flying over us.

All in all we were so pleased with the day, regardless of being very cold.

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