Dunedin and The Otago Peninsular (1) - Albatross and Blue Penguins

The city of Dunedin is an excellent base from which to explore the Otago Peninsular by car and boat. Monarch Wildlife Cruises are an excellent way to observe the seabirds and seals while a car allows one to explore inland; the roads are all of a high standard and safe for an ordinary car provided care (ie: go slowly) is exercised on the `gravel` roads.

I STRONGLY RECOMMEND at least one boat trip (to see albatross species, shags and terns and that you allow two days to drive and walk the peninsular.

The Blue-penguin encounter after dark is a must-do BUT I must say that viewing two chicks and one adult Royal Albatross through THICK TINTED glass after watching a 20-minute old grainy `introductory` film is NOT WORTH THE MONEY. Go by boat to see the birds or stand in the car park outside. (Of course, next year there may be more birds nesting near the `hide` - but the glass will still be useless for photography.

I have uploaded a few pictures of the Blue Penguins at their nesting site; the first picture is of a raft of about 50 approaching at dusk. The others are of the little darlings right up by the viewing platform. Don`t worry if it gets crowded; the best photographs were taken in the last 30 minutes when most people had drifted away anyway. The best angles for photography are from the left-hand side as you approach....

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The Peninsula provides many opportunities to view and photograph the special birds of New Zealand`s coastline. The only slight problem can be parking safely so be prepared to walk sometimes; the birds are not scared-off by people on the roadside. There are so many species that I could include here; I shall begin with the iconic Royal Spoonbill and take it from there. 

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Don`t forget that Black Swans, Pied Stilts, Terns, Oystercatchers and Paradis Shellducks can be included as easily photographed birds here as well.

Earlier I recommended a boat trip; if time allows I suggest you go for the day-long trip that includes the harbour to maximize birding opportunities.

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New Zealand has huge deposits of Natural Gas; here a tanker leaves Otago Harbour.
Clearly, the Albatross are the star attraction! You first see them at their nesting sites and then enjoy close views just outside the harbour (sea-sickness pills may be needed)!
It is the Northern Royal Albatross that nests here providing views (use binoculars) of the chicks and other activity. The parents rely on the `Roaring Forties` to provide uplifting winds and food - as I say, the sea can be a bit lumpy....

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Northern Royal Albatross.
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A Royal Albatross prepares for take-off.
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Bullers Albatross
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Shy Mollymawk

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