Friday, March 22, 2013

The Catlins

After the Kepler Track, I made the decision to go to Stewart Island.  I didn't really want to go because the ferry to get there was expensive, the island is known for it's rainy, windy weather, and the advice I got about the Great Walk on the island was that it was pretty average.  But, on Stewart Island there are kiwis, supposedly kiwis that come out in the day.  And I really wanted to see one.  So I went.  I did the great walk.  I never saw a kiwi and the Great Walk was average as.  The upsides were I met some fun people to do the track with (even met a local Washington-ian from Leavenworth, climber of course) and  I feasted on freshly collected mussels from the beach every night(one of the many reasons I am thankful I carry butter with me wherever I go, even when tramping), and seeing the bird life on Stewart Island (sans kiwi) was pretty cool.  After leaving Stewart Island I went to a beautiful place in New Zealand called The Catlins.

The Catlins are an area of New Zealand that I hadn't really heard of before I came here.  It is an area of coastline that is on the southeast coast of the South Island known for its beautiful beaches and marine wildlife.  I drove the coastline in a couple of days and saw some cool stuff.  My favorite was the wildlife.  The penguins were my favorite.  There are two types: the yellow-eyed and the blue penguins.  I saw the yellow-eyed penguins a few times, they come in at certain beaches for the night, this time of year to molt.  I didn't realize that the penguins here have their nests in the bush so they walk a bit from the beach.  I guess because you usually picture snow with penguins which is why it seems weird.  Most of the time I saw them I wish I had a better camera and/or binoculars.  I also got to see the blue penguins but to see them you have to go to the sanctuary.  Which is really ok because every year since the sanctuary was started the declining populations have begun to increase by 10 percent.  The downside was you couldn't take pictures.  They are one of the smallest penguin species their average height being 13 inches.  They come in from the sea in groups of about 20 for safety, then all run to their nests.  Its pretty cute.  Here are some of my photos:
Supposedly the view point on the Stewart Island great walk
One of the beaches in the Catlins
Watched this goofy character for awhile
My best photo of a yellow eyed penguin
Saw a couple of penguins returning to the sea and saw a great sunrise
One of the waterfalls in the Catlins
Nugget Point
Nugget Point

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