The Otago Peninsula begins just across from Dunedin and extends North about 20 miles. It has many small picturesque towns and bays. It has several interesting tourist attractions including the highlight of our tour around New Zealand and it has all of the makings of a great day trip.
First visit the Larnach Castle. It is the only castle in New Zealand. It is like Hearst's Castle but on a smaller scale.
It has been restored after falling into disrepair by a private party and the admission price defers cost of the work. Try to time it so your arrive when there aren't too many busses, easier said then done.
Next head out to Taiaroa Head for a walking tour to view the giant Albatrosses. These are huge birds with massive wingspans and they will buzz right over you as you hike around the lighthouse. Be sure to finish up by 4:00 because your next stop is a real treat but you need to time it right.
Penguin Place is a private penguin sanctuary for the Yellow Eyed Penguin. The Yellow Eyed Penguin is the third largest species of penguin and the most rare and endangered.
Penguin Place operates the largest sanctuary for these rare birds funded entirely on the funds collected on the tours.
You start your 2 hour tour with a brief lecture on what you will be seeing before you board busses over the hill to the refuge.
You are organized into groups of 10 or less and your guide leads you into a series of camouflaged trenches out to strategically placed blinds. Spotters on the hill direct the guides to blinds in the path of returning adults.
You may end up just a few feet away from an adult being greeted by its hungry offspring. They get a little irritated with each other at dinner time which seems a little strange being as they are fighting over who gets the regurgitated fish pieces first.
The best time to view this is just before sunset when the adults are returning from a long day of fishing and the youngsters are hungry. We were there in February which is a good time of year.
Timing is everything. You want to sign up for a tour which starts about 1 hour before sunset. A little after sunset is better for the returning adults but the light isn't as good for photography. If you go a little later, bring some high speed film. You will easily shoot a whole roll and then some.
This tour is so well organized and it is less than NZ$30 . It is a must see for anyone planning to visit New Zealand in their Summer time.
The Penguin Place was founded by Howard McGrouther and his partner ( I don't have the name, please send it). Howard bought the sheep farm with a small Yellowed Eyed Penguin colony and he started to try to make it more hospitable for them. His partner helped with the work and they devised techniques to reduce the threats to the birds and also help improve the environment for their recovery.
The costs were getting high and Howard's partner was experienced in the tourism area so they decided to offer tours to offset the costs. It has grown into a very successful business and, though I am sure they make a profit from their efforts, they are obviously putting most of the proceeds back into the reserve.
I believe this is one of the greatest examples of Eco-tourism, where tourist interest is paying for wildlife conservation, in the world. These men deserve a lot of credit and you should go see this to demonstrate your support as well as enjoying a close encounter with one of the most beautiful and rare animals on earth.
Don't Miss It! A Must See! Jim Bob Says Check It Out! You get the picture.
Howard and What's His Name. I don't even know which is which. I feel terrible. I hope one of you guys or your friends see this and straightens me out.
Book ahead (03) 474-3300
Write for info to:
Yellowed Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve
P. O. Box 963 Dunedin, New Zealand