Saturday, December 1, 2012

Short Road trip to Oamaru and the Blue Penguins

Saturday, December 1, 2012
oldbearnews editor

We had booked this in for a long time - and finally the day came.  We left home near 11 am – got tanked and hit the road, good traffic flow past Ashvegas and stopped eventually in Temuka for lunch. First up we had a short stroll through main and old part of town and then settled in for lunch at the pottery shop cafe. Very nice and filling.  Shop sold nice pottery stuff- with nice prices to go with it! Then carried on towards Oamaru = nice and easy driving, with very little traffic on the road.  Although the Milk tankers were numerous.  Seems it is true that dairying is the fasted growing business currently in New Zealand. We found the motel easily enough and dumped bags then got directions and headed towards the  penguin colony for the first part - a guided tour.

They are genuine shy critters and easily spooked which explains the no pictures at night policy - I was how ever permitted to get down low and snap (daytime) these two hiding under the boardwalks!
Nice lady met us there and took us for a short guided tour – and I managed to snap a pic or two. Seems there is a very strict no photography policy at night - with any kind of camera! Got instructions for the return trip at night and headed in to the old part of Oamaru in search for a badge and dinner.
I got the badge - eventually – and we strolled up and down the main street (which was deserted being a Saturday afternoon / evening and it appeared they had had their Santa Parade that morning) – then settled on the “The last post” for dinner.  The wine was a bit pricey – but the meals were first class. Almost a shame we had late and heavy lunch.  Mamabear was not able to finished her meal - a very nice kumara beef-strips salad!!
Back we went to the Motel and quick note taking of the days events and news – then a clothes change for warmth. We head back out to the Penguin Colony to see the little critters arriving back home for their nests having done a days swimming in the ocean and hunting for their food!! 
Well, we were told to dress up warm as it can get very cold just sitting at the beach at the viewing platform (and at night). So we did -- only to walk out the door into a typical Canterbury norwester – balmy warm with some 20 plus degrees!! We decided to be better over dressed and xtra warm then risk it and be cold.  Got back to the Penguin colony in a jiffy and sat down expectantly.  Sadly the crowd control was a tad lacking and many getting out of their seats to get 'front – row' viewing – thus spoiling if for those that kept their places.  Eventually close to 190 little flippers came ashore and waddled in – with a lot of noise and smell. Very funny to watch – but also interesting.  Some  juvenile wannabee teenagers not in a hurry to get home to their nest and ended up taking the 'scenic' route.  The colony, thanks to its predator proofing and non intervention policy, has about 200 + penguins nesting there. They live up and down all of the NZ coast line and also the southern coast line of Australia -but you won't see them in concentrations like these anywhere else!!  The little flippers are smaller then a chicken - stand only about 25 cm tall and are actually the smallest known Penguins. Such is their fame they feature on one of the New Zealand bank notes!!  Back to our motel at about 10.30 – and decided to flag the vino fino and head for bed instead. 
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