What a day! My iPhone says 8,000+ steps, but 43 floors climbed. Saw yellow-eyed penguins, sea lions, fur seals, Royal Albatross. Climbed and walked. Endured strong winds, steep climbs up and down. Quite an experience.

Up at 7:00, breakfast, left at 8:30 from Gore. Went through Clinton, stopped in Milton for sandwiches to eat later and cough suppressant for me. Beautiful drive over rolling hills with frost covered fields. Got into Dunedin around Noon. Quick unloading and stuff to our rooms (Motel on York, Room 14 on the third level – walk-up).

Van with two naturalists (Tony and Donna) met us and off we went not returning until 6:00. Went way out on the Otago Peninsula to the Royal Albatross Centre. I’d been here in 2012. Got the full history of the birds. Saw four or five young chicks close to the observation enclosure. Really special place and sights. Oh and it’s a very long and steep walk from the base to the observatory. Long. Steep. Windy, too.

Around 2:30, we headed overland on the peninsula to private areas maintained by the tour company. Then long walk, I mean long walk, downhill to a beach area. On our way down the path, we spotted a female yellow-eyed penguin in a sheltered area. Then coming up the path in front of us was a male. We backed up quite a way. He stopped, spent time preening himself. He was pretty close to us and went into the shelter with the female. We continued down the path to the beach and walked up the beach past sleeping sea lions. At a shelter (sort of like a “blind”) at the end of the beach, we waited to spot yellow-tailed penguins coming ashore after a day of feeding in the ocean. They came back in ones and twos. Climbed out of the water ad walked and hopped uphill. We saw quite a few.

Since it was late and the light starting to fade, we walked back up the beach stopping to take pictures of sleeping sea lions. Got pretty close to them. Would have had to really move fast if they got up and chased us. Walked way back uphill and, thankfully, did not have to traverse the steepest and longest part of the road since Tony, one of the guides, had his four-wheel truck there.

In groups of three or four, he ferried us uphill and to a spot where we walked down a long, long, steep path to an observation point to see a colony of fur seals. Lots of pups and females. Did not see the bulls I had seen in Kaikora last trip. We stayed until the light was almost gone, trekked up the long, long, steep path to the waiting 4X4 to be taken back to the van and the long ride back into the center of Dunedin. Yowee!

Dinner was in town at Etrusco, and Italian restaurant. I was really fading by then with my cough coming back from all the cold and walking. Oh, while out there on all these adventures, the wind was howling. Almost blew me back from time to time when I was trying to walk uphill. I did find out that my red hat does not blow off even in very strong winds. Guess it’s because the brim is soft and flexible.

Tomorrow is a free day to wander anywhere we want in town. 

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