Close Encounters of the Penguin Kind

Well, not really. But we did manage a sighting of the rarest penguin in the world in the wild. Here he is, a Yellow-Eyed Penguin. Can you spot him?

He was returning to his nest at sunset to feed his chick after spending all day fishing out in the ocean. These penguins can dives to depths of up to 160m to catch fish out at sea. It was really neat to see him swim up to the beach astonishingly quickly and then waddle awkwardly as soon as he got on dry land.

We spotted the penguins at Curio Bay, which has been the gem of the Southern Scenic Route so far. Up to now, we have had quite a few days that only a duck could love down here on the southern coast. The weather has been extremely gray and wet and the scenery has been endless fields of sheep. Not what we were expecting on the “scenic route!”

When we experience the occasional sunbreak, we are overjoyed. Here is Sarah soaking up the rays. I believe we experienced a downpour immediately after this photo was taken.

As we arrived in Curio Bay, the clouds finally disappeared and we dried off. The final stretch of road to the bay was extremely hilly and windy, but beautiful. We planned for this week to be a recovery week, but the hills have made that impossible. It is mile after mile of rolling hills down here.

Our first stop was at the local museum at the bay, where they love to stuff Stoats and Possums and arrange them in aggressive poses next to dead fawns. They really do hate these little pests around here.

Curio Bay is famous for its 180 million year old stand of petrified tree stumps and logs from the Jurassic Period. I thought this was pretty interesting, but Sarah and a couple of other New Zealanders we met described this as “Eh.”

Right next to Curio Bay is Porpoise Bay, which is famous for the group of Hectors Dolphins (the rarest dolphins in the world!) that inhabits the bay during the summer. They hang out in the shallow water with the swimmers, kayakers, and surfers and they even surf the waves themselves! They aren’t fed by humans, so scientists are still trying to figure out why they live so close to shore. Sarah and I swam around for a bit, but we never got closer than 15 feet to them. They may have been a bit put off by our body odor? Here I am spotting them in the surf.

Tomorrow we will continue on the scenic route towards Dunedin, enjoying the hills, views, and sheep along the way.

Stats from Week 7 (02.12.2007 – 02.18.2007)
Mossburn – Fortrose
5 days cycling, 2 days resting

333.93km (55.65 km / cycling day)
18 hours, 23 minutes, 36 seconds in the saddle

NZ$488.42 ($NZ69.77 / day)

Leave a Reply