When in New Zealand...GO SEE PENGUINS!
2/1/14 - 2/1/14
What are we doing this afternoon we wondered as we headed into town...after a quick stop at the information center, we'd decided and booked a penguin tour!
We drove out to the Otago Peninsula, on a very narrow winding road, with no guardrails!
We arrived at the Penguin Place and learned a bunch about the rare yellow-eyed penguins that we were hoping to see. The land they are currently nesting on was private farmland that has been converted back to penguin land (regrown and protected). Yellow-eyed penguins are unique in that they are the only penguins that are "anti-social"...they are shy and don't want to see other penguins (aside from their mate) when they're nesting. There's a lot of threats to these penguins, they're the rarest of the 18 species of penguins.
Penguin trenches are underground throughout here with lots of nesting boxes...
Since these birds are anti-social and so shy, we had to be silent and hidden when viewing them. The property has built 'trenches' for people to walk in, undetected from the penguins. These are covered with greenery and level enough the penguins can walk right over undisturbed. There are "viewing rooms" that have slits looking out, that are below penguin eye level so we seem small if they notice.
We were amazingly lucky and there were 2 penguins right near the viewing room, even a chick! This baby was 42 days old and was adorable.
We were so close to him!
They get the yellow stripe from the fish they eat as they grow up, and it can be a good indication of how healthy their diet is. The nesting boxes provide shelter and protection for the penguins.
Despite our thoughts of the water being cold, the penguins actually get hot swimming and fishing all day and will air their wings out to cool down when they are back on land. They're also surprisingly good at climbing, this was way up on a big hill!
We loved this tour so much, and would definitely recommend The Penguin Place for yellow-eyed penguin tours!
We loved seeing penguins so much, we splurged and stuck around for another penguin tour down the road, to see the Little Blue Penguins!
These penguins are only 13" tall! They spend all day fishing at sea and come home at dark, in groups. They're hard to photograph as flashes blind them, so I have tons of blurry little penguin pictures. Adorable!
If only I could bring some penguins home...