© 2012 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. notworkrelated_new_zealand_st_clair_02

New Zealand – Caitlins – Otago Peninsula – 22nd-23rd Dec

Continuing the exploration of the Caitlins we drove to Nugget Point. Luckily it was a nice morning and we got some excellent views of the iconic landforms that reach out from the coast to the ocean, the lighthouse and the rocky inlets. Its a short walk down to the viewing point and its well worth it.

Onwards towards Dunedin and upon arriving at the popular St Clair Beach we strolled along the sandy beach and watched the dogs playing in the waves fetching balls and sticks thrown by their owners. This was a quick stop over as we would be backtracking to Dunedin for Christmas in a few days time. For the next two nights though we decided to stay on the Otago Peninsula, famed for lush hills, extinct volcanoes, beaches, albatross and penguins. We pre-booked to stay in the Portabello Tourist Park ($31 NZD/night) as we weren’t sure how busy it would be so close to Christmas.

This private camping ground is a very nice spot indeed, with a short walk to a shop, pub and an award winning chippy in Portabello. We decided on a walk towards and along the Okia Flat. This takes in “The Pyramids” (volcanic hills), a beach / coastal walk and a crouching elephant made from volcanic rock. The walk took a few hours and we spent the time exploring further into the Papanui Inlet with its soft crunchy sand that swallowed our feet!

Later on we drove up to The Royal Albatross Centre located at the very tip of the peninsula which offers viewing (over the hill where the birds are nesting) and a museum/cafe. As we did not want to pay for the pleasure we took up a vantage point, with lots of other tourists, on top of the cliffs to see if we could spot any birds returning from their day fishing out at sea.

We did see several albatross in amongst the pretty large gulls, and they are HUGE, the photos really do not do them justice. Seagulls also have a big nesting site here and do create a fair amount of shrilling and screaming all on their own. On the other side of the cliffs you can make your way down to the bay and watch the Blue Penguins returning to feed their young. They only come ashore once its practically dark so we waited for them with around 100 other people.

This is also a free area for visitors to watch the penguins and luckily there are volunteers in the guise of marshals (in high vis vests). They offered an informative insight into the penguins and how long they have been there for as well as keeping order amongst the crowds. The elderly male warden has done this job for the past 5 years and was a nice bloke, but his people skills left something to be desired, clearer communication would have made it simpler for people to understand what to do and where to stand. He was however very passionate about the protection of the birds from public! After some shouting at idiots who couldn’t turn their flash on their cameras off, the little birds made their way up to where we were standing, one even walking inches from both of us and producing a little poo. Helen loved it.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f/2.0, Leica 90mm f/2.8, Zeiss 18mm f/4 ZM processed in Lightroom 3)

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