On February 14th, we went to the Royal Albatross Colony, on Otago Peninsula near Dunedin, and to Curio Bay.
There is a centre, the Royal Albatross Centre, that offers tours to observe albatrosses. Well offering is a great word, because the entrance ticket is 50$. There is also a 20$ tour to visit the Fort Taiaroa (established over 100 years ago to counter the threat of invasion from Tsarist Russia).
In these conditions, we thought that 50$ per person to see albatrosses was totally outrageous and chose to walk around the centre. We saw a lot of seagulls (our new passion) and cormorants, and some albatrosses far away. It was enough for us, and we saved 100$.
After that, we went to Curio Bay to attempt seeing yellow-eyed penguins (Megadyptes antipodes). It is considered as one of the rarest penguin.
We arrived around 4pm. There were 2 penguins on the beach, but really far from us. We tried to change or viewpoint and went to the DOC campsite, but the view was not better. We went back on the beach around 5:30pm, and waited patiently that the penguins come from their fishing day. Meanwhile, we saw two chicks hidden in the bush, who were waiting for their parents.
It was cold, we were starting to freeze when, around 8pm, we finally saw a penguin parent coming back from the sea. It was walking, with its clumsy walk, to its chicks who, when they saw their parent, came out of their hiding place. After that, one hour of cuteness, 3 penguins less than 10 meters from us, the parent who was feeding its chicks… We were delighted that we waited. A perfect gift for both of us on Valentine’s day.