A good day for penguins

Long before it was time to get up I heard the rain beating down on to our cabin.  It did not sound good.  When, eventually, it was time to get up the rain still poured out of leaden skies.  It did not take a genius to work out that it was not going to be a good day, weatherwise, but just to make sure I logged on to a Kiwi weather site to find out that it was going to rain all day and that the strong winds would increase to gale force during the afternoon.  Oh joy!  To add insult to injury, the top temperature would be 12°C.  Oh double joy!

Undeterred, we wrapped up warm, bundled camera, waterproofs and ourselves into the car and headed west along the road we had travelled the night before.  We were headed towards Curio Bay where there is a fossilised forest, which shows at low tide, low tide being at about 10.00am.  We had heard that there are some Yellow Eyed Penguins nesting in the soft cliffs above the petrified forest.  Penguins in a zoo are one thing but in their natural habitat they are particularly exciting.  The cliffs above the beach were exposed to the full force of the weather and, as we were taking lenses and tripod down, as well as the camera, I was a little concerned that water could get anywhere into the camera and do damage.  However, I was not going to miss this opportunity.

A Yellow Eyed Penguin

As soon as we dropped down on to the petrified forest with patches of large, orange and slippery seaweed, we saw our first penguin, standing in the open with his back to the elements.  He was close to the shrubbery adorning the sandy cliffs, standing guard over his partner tending the nest under a bush.  He looked beautiful and pathetic at the same time as the rain and wind lashed at him.  He did not seem to mind our presence as we stood just a few feet away, taking photos and getting very wet ourselves.  All along the edge of the cliff are traps set with chicken eggs to entice predators, like the stoat and rat, rather than them predate the endangered penguin population.

Further along the beach were two more, both standing in the open, with flippers out-stretched.  Again they were not perturbed by our presence.  However, not wishing to outlive our welcome with them, and also because we were getting wet, we moved away.  Angela retreated to the car for shelter while I found another penguin, this time standing out in the open on the shelf that is the fossilised forest.  This time it would appear that I did get a little too close and the penguin waddled off, walking as if he had something nasty in his pants.

On the headland between Curio Bay and Porpoise Bay we found a shack selling hot pies.  Hot pies for breakfast?  Why not?   From this vantage point we could look down at the sea battering away at the fossilised forest of Curio Bay and the long sweep that makes up Porpoise Bay, where in better conditions we might see Hector’s Dolphins cavorting in the blue water along with surfers.  However, not today for either, I am afraid.

The petrified forest exposed at low tide

From here we headed further west to Slope Point, the most southerly point on New Zealand’s South Island.  Here, the weather was so bad we decided not to get out of the car but to head back east to call in at the Niagara Falls café at Niagara Falls.  Yes, I mean what I say, although no matter how hard I looked I could not see any waterfalls.  Lunch was in the old school room, converted to a café and craft shop.  It was a pleasant respite from the weather outside.

We had intended to stay out until about 4.00pm but warmth and dryness soon tempted us back to the cabin shortly after lunch.  A good opportunity to catch up with the blog and bring it up to date.  Enjoy.

Angela Again (Not)

Angela is snoozing with the electric blanket on but wants you to know that she loved the penguins!

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