Dunedin – Sealife Central

We’re in Dunedin, in the South of the South Island, to visit my brother and his family. We’ve also found the time for a little sight-seeing, in this case, of the local wildlife. Dunedin is famous for its albatross and penguin colonies, so naturally we went looking for them.

Pied oystercatcher on the Akaroa peninsular

On our first day we went to Aramoana, where a long spit extends out into the harbour mouth. We were looking for penguins, but didn’t see any. We did see albatross, but only from a distance, so settled for some seals and terns. The next morning, we opted for a trip on the Monarch, a boat that goes out of the harbour in search of wildlife. The trip was brilliant – we saw a New Zealand Sealion on the way out of the harbour, then were visited by a pod of Hector’s Dolphins who played and showed off around the boat. We also saw a lot of albatross – there wasn’t enough wind for the Royals to take off, so we only saw them sitting on the ground, but we had visits from a couple of the lesser species. Lesser for an albatross meaning one with a wingspan of less than 3m – these are still very big birds!

New Zealand sealion at Aramoana
Hectors dolphins.
Hectors dolphins
A white-capped albatross.
A white-capped albatross

In the late afternoon, my brother Peter took us to one of the local beaches where penguins nest in the dunes. We walked along the beach to a hide at the far end, and then peered through the windows in search of penguins. After a few minutes we realised that a Yellow Eyed Penguin had been in full view the whole time, and eventually we spotted two more, another Yellow Eyed, and a Little Blue Penguin, both of which had also been pretty much visible the whole time. Unfortunately, they were quite a long way away, so the picture isn’t great, but it was nice to see them, especially as populations on this beach have been falling in recent years due to disturbance from visitors.

Yellow-eyed penguin near Dunedin