Sea-lions and Penguins!

Trip Start Jan 20, 2007
Trip End May 06, 2007

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Friday, April 13, 2007

Up early we drove to Nugget Point with a lighthouse and big hunks of rock sticking up scattered about. The wind here was ridiculous, felt like I might be blown off! Pretty nippy as well and seemed closer than 4800km to the South Pole!  It then started hailing with avengeance so made a very quick sprint back to the bus for shelter.

We then travelled down through The 'Catlins'- an area of distinctive ridges clothed in awesome native forest and headlands with sandy beaches make it as spectacular as any coastline in the country. It's also home to some amazing and rare wildlife so we have a walk around to try and spot sea-lions. These are New Zealand sea-lions and are especially unique as there are only about 100 on the whole coast of NZ, and they swim hundreds of kms from the sub-Antarctic islands to get here. It was miserably cold wet weather and we were trudging along this wild beach for ages getting rained on and wind howling. We had no luck until on the way back right near the minibus where we saw 3! One was in the surf ducking under the waves and 2 were about 10m from us in the grass of some sand dune bit laying there being all blubbery. And they were massive! About half a tonne each.

Next was a trip to Curio Bay which has an amazing fossilised forest born from a pre-Jurassic volcanic eruption. Pretty cool as you can see fossils of trees in the rocks on the beach. The waves were gigantic crashing up on the rocks in all the wind and rain. We then crouched by some rocks attempting to watch for yellow-eyed penguins and are waiting a while. Then one gets washed in on a huge wave and is so small and cute! He kind of got swept along a bit as it was so rough and he got up as if sort of dazed. Then he stopped and flapped his wings before waddling along hopping up different rocks and flapping his wings a bit, and passes us by only about 4 metres away. Absolutely adorable. We were all watching in silence holding our breath as you never normally see them that close, if at all!
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