Monday, January 31, 2011

New Zealand & Australia 5: Dunedin and Seal Beach

We arrived at the port town of Dunedin the next morning and boarded our tour bus under overcast skies and light drizzle.  Our destination was ranch an hour or so south, where a private beach has been preserved for the exclusive use of seals and penguins.  We had booked this tour because Melony really wanted to see a penguin in the wild.

The day grew even more overcast and drizzle turned to rain.  We arrived at the ranch lodge shortly before noon and were treated to a very nice lunch, while rain became torrential and poured down in buckets outside.

It was to be an outside tour.  After lunch, while waiting our turn to go outside, rain turned to hail.

Here, the sopping wet penguin watchers return from from their soggy excursion.  Our turn was next.

But, luck was with us.  The skies cleared just as we boarded the 8 wheel drive vehicles called Argo Avengers and headed down to Seal beach in the mud.

The Argos were impressive to say the least.  They easily navigated the steep, muddy tracks just like they did it everyday.  Which, of course, they do.

This was yet another time I was glad to have my amazing zoom lens.  I was easily able to zoom right in on these seals, who were squaring off thirty feet or so below us.

Here's another seal sunning itself on a rock after the storm.

And these two, one inside the hollow rock and one above.  Too bad we didn't have more time here.  I could have taken photos for the entire afternoon.

Here's a view of the bay just to the right of where the seal photos above were taken.  By now the sun was out, we were warm and had completely dried.

Then we were off to see the penguins.

Melony gasped when we drove through our first deep mud puddle.  But the Argos easily trucked right through.

When we arrived at the preserved penguin beach, there were no penguins to be found.

They were all hiding up in the bushes to the left.  They hid because a sea lion, a brown speck near the opposite end of the beach in this shot, had come ashore looking for a tasty snack.

We did spot a couple penguins hanging out in the bushes.  Here is one that I caught with my long telephoto lens.

He was nearly a hundred yards away.  You can see more of his environment in this image.  He's a white spec in the middle of the photo about a third of the way from the right.

Another area of the coast line.  Notice how the sky is now nearly clear.

Melony loved the Argos.  She had more fun than should be legal riding in them. Her smile says it all.

Next time, Dunedin
Continue on to Post 6: Dunedin by clicking here.


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