Day 66/72: New Years Day!January 1 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C
Happy New Year!
Today was our first day of big driving! We had to get from Knobs Flat (near Milford sound) all the way to Oamaru to see the penguins! It was a 7 hour drive that took us, due to the lack of roads on the South Island, in a very round about route along the coast. However, this took us past Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world!
We had a good drive, setting off relatively early to get away from the vast numbers of insects at Knobs Flat, and listening to great music along the way. We stopped off near Te Anau to get a coffee, and whilst there we saw some Alpacas! Turns out that you can buy food, similar to that of a family farm, to feed the Alpacas so we had a great 20 mins feeding them, and wondering how we could fit one in the van and take it with us for the rest of the trip.
We decided, grudgingly, that the beanbags weren't safe enough to carry an Alpaca or 5, so we had to leave them behind. We carried on, the roads easy now we were out of the alps and the views were of sheep, cows and rolling hills. Beautiful!
We came into Dunedin just after lunch, the home of Baldwin Street. Dunedin itself isn't very nice, looks a lot like downtown Leicester to be honest. But it was worth the drive for the street!
The climb is 350m long, and averages a 1:2.83 gradient. It's really steep. You're walking up in on the balls of your feet, and have to really push to keep going. Imagine if the stairs lacked steps. It was great, and you can't quite get your head around how steep it is! We walked up to the top and watched a cyclist try and fail to get to the top, and then went back down and got on our running kit.
It's a segment on strava and although it was probably the shortest run both of us have done, it was well worth it! It was so hard to put one foot in front of the other, and the burn was ridiculous. Anyhow, we did it and felt great after, with people watching on in awe and surprise (in our minds anyway) although there was no hope of running down!
We got to Oamaru later on and had a sort of the van, taking out the major rubbish we wouldn't need for the next week and generally giving it a tidy. We then went to see the penguins!
The blue penguin is the smallest species of penguin in the world, and are very rare. However, Oamaru is home to one of the largest colonies of them. The Penguins wake up just before sunrise, and travel up to 50km a day! They go in small groups ("rafts") to their chosen area for fishing, and then split up for the day to fish by themselves. They spend all day out in the sea, before heading back just after sunset in their rafts again. It's a long day for them, especially as they're only about a foot tall!
Anyhow, they came in, about 10-20 at a time in roughly 10 minute intervals! They hopped slowly and warily up the rocks, pausing occasionally to spread the oils around their feathers to re waterproof themselves overnight. They then do a little dash, past a big seal which decided to sleep in front of the holes that they ran through. It was very cute, although Izzi got stressed when some didn't go straight through, or decided to wait behind! It was great to see them, and really interesting to hear about the species, and the ticket contributed to their conservation so all in all a lovely experience!Read more