That's one big birdie!

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Jun 18, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Friday, October 15, 2010

Late last night I got chance to call home and speak to two of my sisters, so I woke up today feeling very happy with myself. We had our breakfast this morning at the same time as watching some more rubbish New Zealand TV including the Australian version of Jeremy Kyle called Dr. Oz, which was flipping hilarious. On a role from our penguin watching yesterday we were heading up to the tip of the Otago Peninsula today to try our hand at spotting one of the world's biggest birds, the Royal Albatross. During the summer the colony of Albatrosses can grow to over 200 but at the moment there were only one or two on land and we were holding out much hope of seeing one. When we got to the colony we parked up and went down to the viewing platform only to end up chatting to two guys from the West Midlands... they get everywhere don't they :) They were father and son who were in New Zealand to see some family and the dad was really into bird-watching and wildlife photography so he was pointing out all the surrounding animals on the cliffs. He was also telling us that due to their breeding habits you can wait up to three weeks to see an Albatross come in from the sea at this time of year, so none of us were feeling too hopeful. We waited for about half an hour and were about to head off when, mid-sentence, the dad nearly jumped out of his skin and fell over his own feet when he shouted (yes, shouted): "There's a bloody albatross behind you!!" We twisted around just in time to see a huge albatross swoop in behind us, skirt the rocks and disappear behind the cliffs. We had been worried that we wouldn't be able to tell the difference between an albatross and the hundred other sea-gulls that were flying around, but we had no such problem... the albatross was massive, it's wingspan was over 3 meters wide! We were shocked and excited to have seen one but I think one of the best parts of it was seeing the dads reaction to it all, he was so happy he was practically in tears. He kept showing us the photos he had taken of it (we hadn't got our camera out in time to get any photos of our own) and saying "That has made my day, no no, its made by bloody year"! We were standing around chatting when Tom nonchalantly pointed to the sky and said: "Umm, I think the albatross is back". We looked up and indeed the albatross was back and it flew right over our heads, with me thinking 'I hope it doesn't do a cr*p on us or it would be the biggest bird poo ever'! Well it didn't poo on us, we managed to get some photos and the dad next to us was absolutely made up to have seen it again, his happiness was infectious! After we left the albatross colony we headed into the centre of the city and spent to rest of wandering around the shops and window-shopping. That evening we stayed in a really nice campsite down the road where we got chatting to some people from Christchurch who were on a cycling holiday. They were telling us about the earthquake and despite all the heartache which they had endured they were just so pleased that there had been no human loss. We later found out that the earthquake in Christchurch was the same size as the one in Haiti and was the biggest earthquake in human history which had no fatalities. We are heading to Christchurch in a few days and are feeling slightly nervous at the prospect of experiencing some aftershocks, but if we can be anywhere near as brave as the people we have meet from Christchurch so far I think we'll be okay.    
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