More of the beautiful Catlins CoastFebruary 24, 2017 in New Zealand
I am in awe of this absolutely gorgeous country and the wildlife treasures it has to offer. Birdsong is everywhere, the most strange and interesting of calls that you feel you could sit and listen to for ages. The Tui has such a melodic call and there is some sort of warbler that I love to hear in the shrub and forest (note I now know this is the bell bird). The wagtails flitting about are so fun to watch and the noise of all the birds and cicadas as you drive is definitely one I am going to miss. Just a reminder to ourselves of some of the littler things that have made everyday here so wonderful.
Last night I reluctantly headed out the camper into the cold and dark to brush my teeth. What an amazing surprise in store when I did though...the stars! Couldn't help but exclaim excitedly to Rob to take a look. It was a darker night than in Queenstown and no moon whatsoever with uninterrupted views all around us. Even whilst waiting for Rob to put some layers on a join me I saw two shooting stars! The milkyway hung vertically in the sky and Jupiter sat above the horizon shining brightly. A perfect chance for more star gazing and night time photography.
Rob got some amazing pictures again and with the zoom we could see the star clusters that made up two strange clouds to the right of the milkyway that we had seen before in Queenstown too. We also got to see Jupiter and four of its moons, amazing! Plus more shooting stars. Even south America didn't have stars like this due to the moon so it really was incredible. Oh and we may have heard a Kiwi too!
It also meant a much later night than planned so we were setting an alarm for 5:55 at gone 00:30...hmm.
Once again in the morning I had to get a sleepy and reluctant Rob to get up. It was a little misty out and with the condensation on the windows visibility wasn't the best. We chambered into the front seats from the bed though and set off to find the penguins!(Writing a blog on find penguins about finding penguins has amused me slightly by the way!)
I managed to find a quicker route to the Roaring Bay hide and so we arrived at around 7:00, which turned out to be fortunate as they actually leave their nests before sunrise, which was at 7:20. The road was windy and unsealed but the view of the pre sunrise sky, all soft pinks and oranges, over the rocky beaches was beautiful.
After a short walk down to the hide we arrived to find two penguins waddling to the water from the bush that bordered the edge of the rocky shale and sandy beach. We were pretty excited and they were so funny to watch, it was especially nice seeing them enter the water and bob off too.
Rob then spotted another one emerge from the shrubs where they sleep at night and again head to the sea. He stopped for a bit and shook himself off before he also entered the water. We were treated to two more after that, both the same, waddling like old men and shaking themselves off as though preparing for the day ahead. We were the only people there and with the sky lighting up over the water it was such an intimate experience. So so happy we got up for it.
Feeling very lucky and happy we then headed to Nugget Point lighthouse. A few people were walking back who had clearly gone to catch the sunrise over the rocky nuggets. We think we chose better!
We wandered up to the lighthouse and the view was really great, plus once again it was just us two. The nuggets are massive cliff like rocks sticking out the water and they look like sculptures really. The sun was too bright for a great photo though. It was a slight shame that we had such still weather too, it is renowned for feeling a bit end of the worldly due to the winds and roaring waves, but it was pretty still.
I spotted some movement in one of the pools high up on one of the nuggets and with some zooming in we realised they were seals. There were so many in this pool, probably young judging by their behaviour. They were leaping out of the water and running out then jumping back in again and rolling over each other. So fun to watch. And then we started to spot more and more as we stared at all the rocks that we had first thought were empty and they started to move! There were loads, on the rocks and in the sea too. They started to bark and they sound just like a sheep! So noisy!
We pointed them out to a couple that arrived and then headed back to the car, spotting even more on route.
Next up was Cannibal Bay, strange name, I didn't try to find out, but here we hoped to find more sea lions and find them we did. As we walked onto the beach there was one ahead which had just come out of the water. He was so shiny and dark and he did some very typical poses for us.
The same couple we had seen at Nugget Point told is there were many more up the beach and so after watching thus sea lion walk about on his flippers (very amusing to watch) we headed down the beach to see them.
There were so many! They were all sandy lumps, some which had entwined themselves in the massive fronds of seaweed on the beach too. Rob spotted the flipper tracks in the sand so could tell where each had come from, some from the sea and some from the shallow sand dunes behind the beach. It is wise to keep an eye out in case they come out and surprise you! We kept a 10m distance as advised, but even this is just so close. They mostly slept but it was funny to see them flick sand over themselves or give us a wave.
On the way back down the beach we stopped again as one was returning from the sea.Turns out he wanted a bit of a square off with one of the others. We thought he was a pub running out the sea to his mum but we realised this wasn't the case when they started to bash their chests together, roar and lock jaws. It was like watching a David Attenborough documentary! He kept trying his luck and the other was having none if it. Finally he seemed to decide to just sleep again, but no, he went for another sea lion instead. Boy did he make the wrong choice. When this sea lion got up he was enormous!! He roared and bit out and very soon put the little guy in his place. So impressive to watch this all play out just in front of us.
We couldn't stay all day though and Rob needed to stop walking on his broken toe, so eventually we left and headed for Dunedin.The roads were like English countryside here and it was a pleasant drive.
Dunedin we decided though was nice, but nit what we wanted right now. We entrered on the first dual carriageway we have seen in weeks and the amount of traffic was a headache. Even walking around you spend half the time waiting for lights to change. If we had more money it would have been great to enjoy all the bars and restaurants that looked very inviting, but we didn't. We thought about viewing more wildlife on the Otago Peninsula (they have albatross here) but in the end decided we proffered the free and intimate experiences we had already had and didn't feel the need to pay for a guided tour.
So after a long walk in search of a cash point, which was ridiculously hard to find and left Robs toe in yet more pain, we left for Moeraki.
Another early start for sunrise tomorrow so off to bed now!Read more