20 March 2012

Up Close and Personal [Moiraki + Oamaru + Dunedin, New Zealand]

After a quick grocery stop, we jumped in Jamies truck and headed out for our week-long adventure around the Southern Scenic Route. This route runs from Queenstown to Dunedin, along the south coast of the Southern Island, passing some of the most amazing scenery in the country. We kind of did it backwards, heading first for the east coast; Oamaru, but s'all good.

The journey to the coast was fairly uninteresting, mostly driving through farm land. We passed by the Clyde Dam and Alexandra, before hitting the coast and heading for Moiraki. Moiraki is famous as there are a small collection of almost perfectly round boulders lying all over the beach, half buried in sand. Some are impressively large, others have cracked open showing a hollow center. The beach itself is really nice; wide open flat sands which stretch for miles around the bay. We had a bit of fun jumping all over the boulders, taking photos, but to be honest; it lost its appeal after about 10 minutes.

We headed further up the coast to the small town of Oamaru, which is full of old 19th century buildings. It is a cute place with a relaxed vibe, and is home to two penguin colonies! The blue penguin colony has a ridiculous $25 entrance fee, but the yellow penguin one is free. We went and checked it out, but only managed to see three or four penguins, all miles away.

That evening we camped at a DOC site not far from Moiraki, which was a really nice spot. Cheap too, only costing $6.

The following morning we rose early and planned to check out a place called Kaika, which Mum had recommended if we wanted to see penguins up close and personal. We drove out the gravel road to find a rocky point and small lighthouse. No one else was around, so we were wondering if we had come to the right spot. But after a quick walk down to the shore we spotted two yellow-eyed penguins, along with hundreds of seals, all basking on the rocks. It was a beautiful spot, and it was really amazing to see the penguins up close.

Down the coast a little further is the university city of Dunedin. We had a bit of a wander around the city center and discovered a few nice buildings, but that was about it. Both the Cadbury chocolate factory and Speights brewery run tours, but both were booked out for the day (and probably too expensive for us anyway!). We did drive up to a point overlooking the city which would have been really spectacular had it not been overcast. We also checked out the steepest street in the world! Which was about as interesting as it sounds...

We took a drive out on to the Otago Peninsula, which is a really nice spot; rugged coastline, golden sands and clear waters. Most of the beaches are completely deserted, so if you are after a bit of privacy, this is the spot. At the very tip there is an area famous for its Albatros population, but we weren't able to spot any, just a million annoying seagulls!

That evening we drove down to the Catlins and stayed at another DOC site.Stay tuned...

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