Otago Penninsula - New Zealand
Updated: Jun 25
Dunedin is known as the wildlife capital of New Zealand and situated on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is the second largest city on the South Island. Dunedin has a rich cultural history as archaeological evidence shows the first human occupation of New Zealand occurred between 1250–1300 AD, with a Māori population concentrated along the southeast coast. A camp site at Kaikai Beach, near Long Beach to the north of Dunedin, has been dated from about that time.
The cliffs and hills that tower over a 20 km long harbour, is the home of an abundance of world famous marine wildlife. Here you will find Royal Albatross, the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin and the beautiful Blue Penguins are found out at Pukekura .
It is cold. Very cold. But it is equal parts spectacular. I was in Dunedin in 2019 on a trip for a few days with my work as a Cyber Safety educator in schools working at one of the local colleges.
The locals are very friendly and all that I met spoke to me in equal parts Māori and english. The advice of the teachers that I worked with told me a drive out to the edge of the Penninsula was must. I am so glad I took their advice.
I ventured out in my hire car and found The Dunedin Royal Albatross Centre located at Taiaroa Head on the tip of the Otago Peninsula. The albatross has become an icon of the city and it is an impressive sight to see a fully-grown Royal Albatross socircling over head apparently.....I didn't see any at all. The Albatross centre was packed and to be honest I was turned off because of that. But, I looked up to my right and saw a dirt road going straight up the very steep hill to a private farm that holds Blue Penguin tours. I drove up there.
Natures Wonders, is situated above the Royal Albatross Centre at the head of Otago Peninsula, and I must say it added a little more adventure to my experience. I took a personalised tour on an 8 wheel drive Argo across an incredible sheep farm that had its own private beaches and amazing wildlife including Yellow Eyed, Blue Eyed penguins and New Zealand Fur Seals. My tour guide had only left the South Island once in his life....and that was to go to The North Island. He hated it and couldn't wait to get home. He knew the property like the back of his hand and his passion for the wildlife was infectious. Natures Wonders has pumped an enormous amount of money and resources into protecting the beaches, wildlife. Thousands of native trees that have been planted around the property. Miles of twelve foot high predator proof fencing have been erected to protect the beaches, which include the all important Penguin Beach.
Penguin beach is a yellow eyed penguin sanctuary and home to the little blue penguin. The predator proof fence line has had a huge impact in protecting the penguins from feral cats, stoats, ferrets and other pests along with a 365 day a year self funded predator control programme which includes trapping and regular patrols of the property.
It is all really accessible, and you could literally touch the seals as they are everywhere (not a good idea though and a quick way to land your ass in hospital with a nasty infection). The Blue Eyed Penguins are nothing short of divine. I was there in early April and they were in there little nesting boxes, so the guide opened them up so they could look out and say high. The cuteness is ridiculous, they are super curious.
The Green Mussels still live in the local supermarket where you can buy them cheap by the pound!
The Street art around Dunedin
The friendliness of the locals and the way they speak both languages fluently
My accommodation at The Chamberson Hotel in Dunedin CBD
The nipple snapping cold!
The fact Google Maps wouldn't work and I nearly missed my flight trying to figure out how to get to the airport late at night in the freezing cold and rain.