One of many first holidays I ever took from Wanaka about eight years in the past was to the Otago Peninsula on the outskirts of Dunedin. We camped at a vacation park, went for lengthy walks, ate penguin-shaped pancakes, and had outdated time. Spontaneous getaways with buddies are the perfect, and I cherish these recollections.
I believe that journey is what began a deep love for the Otago Peninsula and its wildlife and landscapes. I might dwell there.
A dope little metropolis with accessible, epic nature proper on its doorstep, it doesn’t get any higher than Dunedin. It’s not like different cities world wide. In lower than an hour, you’ll find your self within the rolling inexperienced hills and secluded seashores of the Otago Peninsula.
Out right here, it feels such as you’ve left the massive metropolis behind and have the entire Peninsula to your self. Wild seashores dotted with sea lions and penguins meet outdated forests and pastoral hills. If you happen to’re fortunate, you may even catch a glimpse of the Southern Lights.
The drive out to the Otago Peninsula from downtown Dunedin is one in all my favorites in New Zealand. Significantly, it’s beautiful. Slowly winding alongside the ocean, it provides probably the most superb views of the complete journey to Taiaroa Head. Take your time.
After almost a decade, listed here are my picks for the six finest experiences you possibly can have on the Otago Peninsula – get pleasure from!
1. Hang around with the ocean lions at Sandfly Bay
Considered one of my favourite locations I all the time go to after I’m on the Otago Peninsula is Sandfly Bay.
Sandfly Bay is a beautiful bay encircled by dunes, Sandfly Bay feels wild and distant, but it surely’s fairly accessible. A straightforward stroll out and in, it’s not lengthy or strenuous. Sandfly Bay can be a great spot for wildlife watching.
There are virtually all the time a dozen sea lions/rāpoka rolling about on the seashore, which an important enjoyable to look at. However keep in mind to maintain at the very least twenty meters away from them and don’t between them and the ocean (their escape route). You may additionally see New Zealand fur seals/kekeno, in addition to different sea birds.
On the finish of the bay, there’s a penguin conceal the place you possibly can maintain an eye fixed out for the endangered yellow-eyed penguins returning dwelling at sundown.
2. Channel your childhood princess and sleep in a fort
If you happen to’re seeking to keep someplace memorable, remember to take a look at the lodge at Larnach, New Zealand’s solely fort.
Perched excessive on the hill with spectacular views over the harbor and surrounding hills, the views of the Peninsula are unparalleled from right here. A historic property with beautiful, elaborate gardens and its juxtaposition with the encompassing nature make the expertise memorable.
It’s price even simply staying the evening so as to get up early and have the grounds to your self. I spent hours earlier than breakfast having fun with the gardens and strolling across the place with out one other individual in sight. The gardens are superb and price visiting all on their very own, whilst a wee day journey.
3. Maintain an eye fixed out for the twinkling southern lights
Since you are thus far south, you will have probability of seeing the Aurora australis, aka the Southern Lights, from the Otago Peninsula.
Probably the most spectacular shows of the Southern Lights I’ve ever seen was on the Otago Peninsula. I used to be driving again to Wanaka late one evening after an occasion on the Larnach Fortress after I by chance took the lengthy route again in direction of Dunedin. Overlooking the ocean and dealing with due south, the aurora was so vibrant I might see it whereas driving. I simply needed to pull over and admire how spectacular the lights had been.
Many individuals head in direction of Hoopers Inlet for a glimpse of the aurora, however anyplace dealing with south in direction of the horizon with out another mild will do. I all the time verify the aurora forecast to get an concept of the aurora exercise, however generally you may even be shocked.
4. Admire the world’s rarest penguin
In case you are like me and are reasonably obsessive about penguins, effectively, you’ve come to the best place. There are many penguins to be discovered on the Otago Peninsula, although none fairly so distinctive because the hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins. Hoiho means “noise-maker” in Māori.
They’ve nesting populations on the south island of New Zealand, Stewart Island, and the Subantarctic Islands – the place I’ve seeI’veem. In complete, there are estimated to be round 2000 breeding pairs, which isn’t many. They’re declining quickly.
Whereas there are many little blue penguins round, the true showstoppers are the elusive yellow-eyed penguins. They’re scarce however dwell across the space and might be seen at sundown at Sandfly Bay from a penguin conceal within the grass. You may as well see them on excursions of the Penguin Place, an area conservation reserve.
5. Conceal away in your very personal nature reserve
There’s nothing fairly so joyful as squirreling away within the cutest cabin amongst the solely remaining valley of native forest on the Otago Peninsula.
The Hereweka Backyard Retreat is a type of locations that appears plucked from a fairytale. The lodge is located on the slopes of the long-lasting Harbour Cone, removed from town lights and close to the perfect spots on the Otago Peninsula. Overlooking the Hoopers Inlet, it’s a magical place to disconnect and chill out.
After over a decade of planting and replanting right here, the native birds have returned. I fell asleep listening to tui and bellbirds calling in utter bliss. How fortunate are we to have locations like this?
6. Take a look at the one mainland albatross colony in New Zealand
Regardless of your diploma of hen data, you have to go to the Taiaroa Head Nature Reserve on the finish of the Peninsula.
Named for Te Matenga Taiaroa, a Nineteenth-century Māori chief, Taiaroa Head is the one colony of Northern Royal Albatrosses on the mainland anyplace globally. Close by you’ll discover the Royal Albatross Centre, which provides excursions and viewing spots to get shut to those magnificent birds. If you happen to stick round for sundown, you may as well head right down to the seashore close by for a night penguin tour to look at the native little blues surf again dwelling.
I’m all the time impressed at simply how loud the little penguins are; you undoubtedly can’t miss them.
Have you ever checked out the Otago Peninsula earlier than? What’s your fave spot? Share!
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