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The Beautiful Otago Peninsula

Otago Peninsula

This isthmus, stretched out for some 30 kilometers right outside of Dunedin is probably one of the most spectacular natural sights there is to see in the Dunedin area. It has the most accessible wildlife on the South Island, and I’m not surprised this area was one of the first ones to introduce the term Eco Tourism. It is just a large area with small slopes, green pastures, woods, grasslands, dramatic sea views, nice houses, beaches and scenic drives.

In addition to all this, the only castle in New Zealand has been built right here, the Larnach Castle, built by William Larnach in 1871 in order to impress his French nobility wife. It is actually a monument of extreme extravagance and stories of treason and suicide. But it is a beautifully architecture Victorian – style building situated at the highest point of the peninsula.

The main reason for going here though should absolutely and with no doubt be the fantastic wildlife and the possibility to catch sightings of yellow-eyed penguins, sea lions, fur seals and the albatross. This area is actually the only place on earth where albatross are found on a kind of mainland. The rest of the different albatross species breed in remote areas like l’ile d’Amsterdam, South Sandwich Islands, Kerguelen, Chatnam Islands. In order to secure this great bird, the people of Otago peninsula have set up a sanctuary, fenced off their breeding grounds, and have opened an information center. The entrance fee is 5 dollars, and you actually get your money’s worth of information about the albatross, the threats they are exposed to from fishermen’s hooks that actually drown them and so on. A classroom is available for kids coming from different parts of New Zealand to learn more, and there are guided tours inside the enclosures for people who are interested.

To tell you the truth, you don’t need a guided tour. If you are there at dusk, i.e. between 6 and 7 p.m., you are guaranteed to see them in flight coming home from a day out at sea. Beautiful large birds floating on the air rather than flapping their wings. I saw several, but it was just impossible to take  a proper ohotograph, so I concentrated on all the seagulls that were present, and I totally fell in love with them.

They were not scared at all1 They all came really close to my camera as if they wanted me to take a picture. The way I see it, a seagull is worth exactly as much as an albatross, so enjoy my photos.