New Zealand has 3 types of penguins and I had my heart set on meeting the beautiful blue penguins. These penguins are the smallest penguins in the world and they can primarily be found in Otago Peninsula and Oamaru. So, we leave Dunedin and head to Otago Peninsula to try to see them.
We learned that the best time to see them is before 0900 when they leave to go fishing or between 1900-2100 when they return from fishing. So, we left early to try to catch them in the morning. We arrived to the facility around 0800 and to our surprise the gates to the viewing platform were locked. Well shoot! We did manage to get some beautiful sunrise photos.
And we spotted some fur seals pretty far away. The blue arrow is pointing to their spot which you can see in the lower right photo (zoomed in).
The penguins should have been on this beach….but we could not see them from such a far distance. The lower right photo shows the blue penguin that we were searching for on the beach.
On the way to Otago Peninsula or Pilot’s Beach we found a penguin crossing sign.
We left Otago Peninsula and headed toward the Moeraki Boulders. These are large spherical stones resting on the beach that have been exposed through the shoreline erosion. There are other boulders remaining in the mudstone that will, eventually, fall to the beach to join the others.
These boulders are magnificent in their color, shape, and size. Each one is unique and beautiful. Several boulders weigh tons and the largest ones are over 2 meters wide!
We found one in the mudstone just itching to come out so we tried to put it back in.
We get back on the road and make our way to Oamaru. This town is most famous for its blue penguin colony and its limestone architecture. But, we also find a hidden gem inside the Steampunk HQ.
I am not really sure how to describe this incredibly unique and novel museum called Steampunk HQ. Perhaps you have heard of Steampunk before, but this is all new to me. Steampunk is Industrial revolution meets Victorian era collection. It is a place for all things quirky, weird, unusual, and just plain strange. You are encouraged to touch everything, sit in cars, pull strings, push buttons and yank cords.
Matt had a grand time playing this old organ that shot out the strangest noises and melodies.
We each goofed around with lots of bits and pieces.
They had this super cool room that lit up all around you.
Even the outer parts of the building had strange things attached to them…check out the fisherman on the roof.
Oamaru is known for its legacy limestone buildings which are relics of embarrassing wealth long since gone.
And unusual sculptures
The blue penguins took over an abandoned quarry in 1970. In 1992 the local community decided to build a sanctuary around their habitat. Currently there are 249 breeding pairs that reside in this area.
These little guys swim 75km each day at an average speed of 4-6km per hour. They will dive up 70 meters around 1500 times per day! They can hold their breath for about 2 minutes.
These are pictures of pictures as we were not allowed to get that close or to photograph the penguins.
The sanctuary built little houses for the breeding pairs so that they have somewhere warm to go once they return from fishing. Each breeding pair returns to their particular home. A few times we could see a juvenile or a molting adult inside, but the photos just don’t come out well.
The have a viewing room where they set up little portals to spy inside the little homes. They keep a red light on so as not to startle the penguins, but at least we could see them up close and personal.
Penguins have waterproof feathers that keep them warm while they are swimming. But once a year, they will molt and shed the old feathers and grow new ones. During this 18 day period they stay inside their home. These are also a rare breed of penguins in that they can hatch eggs twice in a season. The parents will incubate the eggs for 35 days, then raise them for 8 weeks and then set them to the sea. The juveniles will stay at sea for a full year before returning home. Unfortunately, only about 35% will return.
The little blue penguin is just below Matt’s knee.
As we round the sanctuary we come across a fur seal colony.
These two were very playful.
We stop off at Scott’s Brewery (Wayne’s last name is “Scott” so he was particularly excited to stop here). Read the back of the shirt as it is super funny.
Saw these in a gift shop by the Penguin Sanctuary at Otago Peninsula….just made me laugh.
We were not able to get really good photos of these beautiful little penguins, but I sure did love seeing them.
- Kilometers traveled: 179km
- Hotel: Brydone Hotel
- Time Traveled: 3 hours
- Kilometers walked: 7.7km
Events from this blog occurred in early March. Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind live events. We visit the large bustling town of Dunedin in our last blog.