Penguins, Boulders and Oamaru Creek Bed and Breakfast
Off we went to grab supper at a place called Cucina 1871 in Oamaru before trying to see penguins. It was Italian, but we actually both had seafood. I had Blue Cod and Linda had Salmon. Both were prepared very creatively. We are getting to love kumara, the local version of the sweet potato. Nice food in comfortable atmosphere.
Penguins are only found in the southern hemisphere and this may be our only chance to see them. So the instructions from
Austin and Jay at the Oamaru Creek B and B was that the yellow eyed penguins could be seen at bushy beach between 6 PM and 8 PM. Apparently, penguins were on another time zone that night because was after 8 when the first penguin waddled its way up the beach. There were 3 or 4 fur seals to keep us entertained while we waited. Yellow eyed penguins from 100 yards away through binoculars are pretty riveting. Well anyway we saw them, with eyes watering from trying to focus for ½ an hour. A total of 5 finally made their way onto the beach.
Well that was exciting, so on to the blue penguins at 10 PM. The blue is the smallest penguins in the world. You can pay $25 for the cool seats or go 100 feet down the street and watch them come out and across the parking lot for free. At least they weren’t 100 yards away and you could see them with the naked eye. The locals claimed there were 40 the night before, but tonight
#1 they were late, it was almost dark and
#2 there were only three of them for 25 tourists. Alright, I think we have earned out naturalist merit badge, so can we go home to bed?
Oamaru B and B was built around 1900 and it exudes character. Bathrooms have been redone with modern plumbing, but the original very high ceilings and woodwork are left intact. When we arrived, Austin and Jay were lighting a fire in the wood stove and took turns sitting down with us over a cup of tea and made us feel completely at home. There is a large sitting room guests are welcome to use and there is quite a collection of music CD’s there with an emphasis on jazz. They also provided penguin info, although Jay seemed a bit perplexed what all the fuss was about.
Next morning, they also won the award for best coffee at any bed and breakfast we visited in New Zealand. Custom made flat whites ( see our separate post about beer and coffee in New Zealand) were perfect . The breakfast was also in competition for one of the best. Fresh squeezed orange juice , fresh sliced apricots and pears for the yogurt, followed by egg dishes cooked to order. This is place is definitely a winner !!
Having met our wildlife quota we next went for our archeology merit badge. We headed down the coast a few miles to the Moeraki boulders. They are like giant geodes laying on the beach. I remembered as the water lapped high
on the beach, that our friend Curtis had told us they were best seen a low tide. Oops. Well anyway, merit badge collected, back in the car and pointed inland to go across the dry expanse of Central Otago to the west coast. This area lies in the rain shadow of the Western mountains and it’s open grasslands with mountains as a backdrop remind us of Wyoming. The closer we get to Queenstown the more fabulous the views become. As we turned up the incredibly steep street to the Queenstown house bed and breakfast we had come to the time for the next post. If things seem to have gotten a bit dull, stick with us till the next one.