Finalizing our trip to the bottom of the South Island, we spent the evening at Porpoise Bay. Not a large tourist area, there are few accommodations available. I think we got the last place in town, which happened to be an older home overlooking the Bay. The Bay is home to the rare Hector Dolphins, the smallest dolphin in the world, at an average of 4 feet in length (our Florida bottlenose dolphins are 8-12 feet). In spring and summer (October through March), they come into this cove to feed. Since they prefer feeding in the shallow waters near shore, it is not unusual for the dolphins to swim along with surfers or swimmers in the waters. On our arrival, we had wind and rain, so didn’t venture out to find the dolphin.
An hour or so before sunset, we made the short drive to Curio Bay. A 180 million year old fossil forest is located just off the rocky shore. These Jurassic age tree stumps are now petrified, this is considered one of the finest examples of trees from this period. The Bay is also home to yellow eyed penguins, so we timed our visit hoping to see them come in for the evening. At this location, the penguins are somewhat acclimated to seeing people on the beach, so they will go forward to their burrows as long as people don’t get too close or block access to the nests. After waiting a bit, one worked his way in. A few minutes later two came in together. They spent about 30 minutes working their way up over the rocks, so we had plenty of time to shoot pictures and watch them interacting.
The following morning we noticed people jumping into the water (in wet suits) down the beach from where we had spent the evening. Knowing this meant the dolphins were probably in the water, we rushed down to the water’s edge. Over the next hour, we watched numerous small pods of the dolphins play and surf in the waves. If we had had winter wet suits with us, I’m think we might have jumped in too.
Now it's time to head north to Queenstown.
|New Zealand Oyster Catcher|
|On the road to Queenstown|