Caitlin's Forest, Albatross and Penguins

Trip Start Feb 22, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, March 21, 2011

Having made it back to the ocean, we began the Southern Scenic drive.  Our first stop was in Invercargill to see Henry, a 112 year old Tuatara who's ancestors go back back 220 million years.  Our coastal drive continued through the Caitlin's National Forest and passed beautiful bays and quaint little towns.  Highlights on the first day included stops at Waipapa Point to see the sea lions, Curio Bay to see the 160 million year old petrified forest (one of the most extensive in the world), Porpoise Bay to have lunch and see the Hector's Dolphins playing in the surf and last, but not least, our first sighting of the yellow-eyed penguins at Nugget Point.  These are the world's rarest penguins and it was a treat to see them swim in at dusk!

After spending a relaxing night just feet from the ocean, we continued on to Dunedin.  What at first seemed like "just another town" ended up being a pretty nice place that we'd make a point to stop at again "next time through".  The hook here was the stunning Otago Peninsula.  With water and hills dominating the region, it was a gorgeous place to drive around. The main attraction was seeing the albatross flying at the end of the peninsula.  Our day ended on top of Mt. Sandy with amazing 360 degree views all around.

Our last day of driving in the region took us to Shag Point where we had a great picnic besides some playful seals.  In late afternoon we also saw another yellow-eyed penguin swim in after waiting a good 40 minutes.  Our luck continued that evening as we pulled into Oamaru and were given a free pass into the blue eyed penguin reserve.  These penguins are much more common, but just as cute to see.  After spending a little over an hour watching a few come on shore and strut around, we headed out to do a little more driving before the night ended.
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