Penguins, Boulders and the Steepest Street in the World..!

Penguins, Boulders and the Steepest Street in the World..!

Once we’d left the Mount Cook National Park we made our way back over to the South Island’s east coast and drove to the town of Oamaru. This pretty coastal town is famous for its penguin colonies – most notably the Blue Penguin and Yellow Eyed Penguin varieties. We arrived early evening and headed to Bushy Beach, where we were hoping to spy some of the rare yellow eyed penguins. It turned out that we were a little bit early and the best time to see them would be about an hour before dusk, so we decided to go off and do some shopping before returning to the beach later that evening. It was absolutely freezing and the wind was so strong that it was agony having to wait on the cliffs for the penguins to appear, but eventually our patience paid off. We witnessed four penguins wading out of the sea and waddling across the beach towards their nests. They were really small and as we were up on the cliffs, it took a while for us to realise what they were. The way they shuffled across the sand and dried off their wings was so cute! We also spotted a baby penguin hidden away in the bushes on the cliff – obviously waiting for his mum to bring him some dinner! [singlepic id=3692 w=420 h=640 float=center] [singlepic id=3700 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3698 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3691 w=620 h=440 float=center] After watching the penguins for a while and determining that we weren’t going to see much more than we had already, we got back into Fred and headed to a holiday park out of town to spend the night. The Waiktaki Waters Holiday Park was run by a young Aussie, who had bought the place just six months previously. His sister and her boyfriend were helping him out and it transpired that the boyfriend was from the very same UK town that we are from – what a small world! We’d had a busy few days and decided to stay there for a second night to chill out and catch up on a few things. It was a well needed break and we loved the caravan park so much, we could have stayed longer. However, we just had to move on as we had lots to see the next day! Not far from Oamaru are the Moeraki Boulders – a group of giant, round rocks, scattered across a beautiful sandy beach. The rocks have been shaped and rounded by water and wind and they really are a fascinating sight to behold. [singlepic id=3696 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3688 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3684 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3683 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3693 w=620 h=440 float=center] After spending some time photographing the boulders we continued our journey down the coast towards the town of Dunedin. The town was first settled by Scots and has a very Scottish feel about it – right down to the shortbread biscuit shops and bagpipes! There are some beautiful buildings in the town, including the railway station, old law courts and numerous Churches. The Octagon, in the town centre, is dominated by a statue of Robert Burns – giving another hint to its Scottish heritage. [singlepic id=3682 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3681 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3685 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3695 w=620 h=440 float=center] One of the highlights of our visit to Dunedin was walking up Baldwin Street – the steepest street in the world! [singlepic id=3678 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3687 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3676 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3686 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3699 w=620 h=440 float=center] It really was unbelievably steep with a gradient of 1 in 2.86 at its steepest point. We weren’t the only ones gathering at the bottom of the street to walk up it – Baldwin Street seems to have earned its place on the tourist trail and we were amongst friends, families and coach loads of tourists all taking on the challenge. Once we had reached the top of the street, the weather took a dramatic turn for the worst and we got absolutely soaked making our way back down. The gusts of wind were so strong that we witnessed resident’s bins and glass bottles go flying or rolling right down the road – just one of the hazards of living on the world’s steepest street! After we had left Dunedin, the weather pretty much stayed the same – blowing a gale and raining heavily. We wouldn’t have minded but we were about to go for a walk to the Nugget Point Lighthouse in the Catlin’s region – something that would have been much more pleasant in the sun! [singlepic id=3690 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3689 w=620 h=440 float=center] [singlepic id=3680 w=620 h=440 float=center] Nugget Point is named after the huge rocks sitting in the sea just off the coast, which resemble gold nuggets. The lighthouse is one of the country’s oldest and still operates to this day (albeit automatically) overlooking the dramatic, rugged coastline. The walk to the lighthouse was short, but a real struggle in the wind and rain. We could hear fur seals on the rocks below us, yelping and crying out to each other in their quest to find a nice spot to rest. The view was pretty amazing and we would have loved to have lingered there a bit longer to see if we could spy any penguins (who are said to also nest here) but we couldn’t bear the cold any longer! That night, we camped in a rest area near the town of Balclutha. We had a long day ahead of us the next morning as we were swapping coasts again and heading to one of New Zealand’s most famous beauty spots, Milford Sound.

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