Saturday, 26 March 2016

Sea Lions, Albatross! Penguins, Bye.

Our last day, I can't believe how quickly it's all gone. Went for a guided nature expedition around the Otago peninsula, started at a superb sandy beach with white-chocolate-coloured female NZ Sea lions, camouflaged brilliantly, the males are much darker. They reintroduced themselves a few years ago, and with help have thrived. Next the albatross colony, three fluffy chicks weighing as much as a large turkey. Shags also have a nesting colony, with their guano-volcano nests. Many fur seals lounging in the sun or playing in the surf. Two blue penguins lurking in their nest-holes moulting, they lose all their feathers at once, so aren't waterproof for a month or so and have to stay ashore. They may lose half their body weight in this time. Finally The Penguin Place, a sanctuary set up by a farmer, funded purely by tourism. They've planted local trees for shade and made nestboxes, hides and rodent traps, all with some success. Jim a 22 year old yellow eyed penguin was nearing the end of his moult, no doubt hungry. He's nearly twice their average age. They also run a small hospital for injured or underweight ones.
An excellent place and fine end to a brilliant holiday.

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