New Zealand….day 7 – Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour

also known as the “why didn’t I read the brochure” half day tour.

On the long drive to Dunedin from Te Anau, Clarke passed the clipboard around for us to sign up for a wildlife tour that afternoon.  I didn’t read the brochure that was attached that described the tour but a few others on the bus were doing it so I decided to do it as well.

In future I will ALWAYS read the brochure.

We were driven straight to the office, paid for the tour, dropped off the people who weren’t joining us then made our way to the Otago Peninsula.  The hills rise very steeply (as they do all over this beautiful island) so soon we were well above sea level, driving on single-lane roads that are more suitable for small  vehicles than 50 seat coaches.  It was pretty scary at times, just looking down a cliff and hoping the driver didn’t stop suddenly or else we would be in big trouble.  To add more fear the roads were very twisty.  The views however were fantastic.  The water was such a beautiful shade of blue in contrast to the dry, brown mountains.  We made our way up over the top and down the other side where the countryside became more green and lush.

From there we went down to a small pier to catch a boat.  That’s when I started to worry and wish I’d read the brochure.   I was totally kicking myself when the captain announced we would be going one mile out into the open ocean.  The boat was not big by any means.  It didn’t hold many more than our 48 people.  The day was nice, sunny and calm according to the captain.   That didn’t stop the boat from rocking from side to side (I don’t know the technical term for this).  I began to get scared when it nearly rocked over on to it’s side.  I tried to focus on the commentary being given by the captain.  He explained that the albatross that we could see don’t touch land for four years at a time.  He also said that the multitude of birds in the water were called shags.  I’d never seen a shag, didn’t even realise it was a real bird.  I just kept thinking of the Aussie saying “sitting there like shags on a rock”.  Of course, when I had the opportunity I took a photo of shags sitting on a rock.

Instead of heading back between the heads of the harbour we ventured over to the rocks outside the heads.  We were to see some seals lazing on the sunny rocks.  I’ve seen quite a few seals over the last few years and they are fast becoming a favourite animal of mine.

We finally headed back through the heads and began the hour-long ride back to the pier where the bus was waiting to take us back to our hotel.  Overall I really enjoyed the cruise.  I’m not normally one to do things like this with looking into them so it was fun.  I still don’t like small boats on the open ocean but the sights we saw were brilliant.

shags on a rock

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