Little Blue Penguins

Well my camera definitely doesn’t take nights shots at all well. These were the best ones, and I’ve edited them.

The girls and me went to Taiaroa Head at sunset on our Christmas holiday to see the blue penguins at night. There were over 300 penguins that night making their way up the beach to their mate and to their chicks. They wait till about half an hour after sunset till they come in making sure that there are no predators about; there was a seal jumping around the sea that night. They started arriving about 10 pm and came in in groups for about half an hour.

They’re about 30 cm tall; not much bigger than the seagull in the last photo. It’s well worth the trip (a trust runs a guided tour, but all profit goes directly back into saving the penguins – http://www.bluepenguins.co.nz/). You can read more about the penguins here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Penguin.

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Port Chalmers

View of Port Chalmers and Otago peninsula from Lady Thorn Dell; a rhododendron garden in an old quarry.

Tip: Click on the photos to see them at the full size.

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The Nine Fathom Foul; a large iron anchor located at the site of Scott’s Memorial along the Rangi Park Track. The anchor fouled many local fishermen’s nets 1978 when it was removed and placed here.

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Bus Shelter Art

These bus shelters around Dunedin were painted by late Broad Bay artist John Noakes. He spent 15 years painting murals on 65 bus shelters around Dunedin. The work was commissioned by Keep Dunedin Beautiful as part of a wider beautification project.

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Dunedin artist Daniel Mead painted a portrait of Mr Noakes on one of the shelter’s walls at Company Bay, and re-created Mr Noakes’ original work from 1987 on the remaining walls:

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Northern Royal Albatross (Toroa) Spotting at Taiaroa Head

Tairaroa Head, at the end of the Otago Peninsula (30 minutes drive from Dunedin, New Zealand’s most southern city), is the only mainland place in the world to view Northern Royal Albatrosse (listed as an endangered specie) in their natural habitat. We went there twice—once during the day, and once at dusk—to see if we could see an albatross or two (as well as a little blue penguin or two). The wing span of the albatross can be three metres wide, so you are definitely going to know if you see one or not.

No luck either time, unlike Dean and his girls who just stand there for a while (in probably the same place we did) and one flies past. I’m envious. I guess it gives us a good reason to go back again.

It’s currently nesting time, and the nests are on the other side of the cliff from where we were. If you visit the Royal Albatross Centre  and do a tour, then you can visit the viewing observatory to see them.

We did see hundreds of red-billed gulls and lots of other birds. The bird in this photo is a gull, but you can pretend it’s an albatross if you like. I was thinking of photoshopping in an albatross, but then that would be cheating.

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Taiaroa Head also has a strong historical connection. From Maori settlement in the 1300’s to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi: the establishment of the lighthouse and fortifications in the late 1800’s, and its use as a defence base during World War I and II. I’m not entirely sure, but it appears the only way to visit Fort Taiaroa is by doing a tour of the Royal Albatross Centre. Yet another reason to visit the area again.

The Steepest Street in the World

Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, New Zealand, is considered the world’s steepest residential street, according to the Guiness Book of World Records.

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A short straight street a little under 350 metres (1,150 ft) long, with an average slope of slightly more than 1:5. Its lower reaches are only moderately steep, and the surface is asphalt, but the upper reaches of this street are far steeper, and surfaced in concrete for ease of maintenance and for safety in Dunedin’s frosty winters. Over the 161.2 metre length of the top section, it climbs a vertical height of 47.22 metres, which is an average gradient of 1 in 3.41. At its maximum, the slope of Baldwin Street is about 1:2.86 (19° or 35%). That is, for every 2.86 metres travelled horizontally, the elevation changes by 1 metre.

The street is the venue for an annual event in Dunedin, the Baldwin Street Gutbuster, which  involves athletes running from the base of the street to the top and back down again. The event attracts several hundred competitors annually, and as of 2008 the record is 1:56 minutes, set in 1998.

The annual Jaffa race, which is part of the Cadbury Chocolate Festival involves the rolling of over 30,000 from the top of the street. Each Jaffa is sponsored by one person, with prizes to the winner and funds raised going to charity.

We had fun rolling Jaffa’s down the hill. Not all of them reached the bottom, and many of them just happened to get eaten…

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Wooden posts and sharks

St Clair beach in Dunedin; a stunningly beautiful beach perfect for windsurfing. Although the weather in the morning was beautiful and warm by the time we visited the beach in the afternoon, black clouds started to threaten us from above. We did manage a quick walk down the east end of the beach so I could take these photos.

The waves were much too rough to go swimming with water regularly splashing, as the tide was incoming, above the steps that lead from the boardwalk down to the beach. Instead, we took ourselves west to the 28 degree celsius hot salt water outdoor swimming pool, nestled in the rocks at the end of the beach. The pool was first opened in 1884 and heating was added during the 1960s. As we were swimming in the hot water, waves were regularly crashing into the rocks with the surf being thrown against the sides of the pool.

These much photographed wooden posts on the beach are the remains of an old breakwater.

The girls asked me why there was a shark warning bell at the beach and what would they do if they heard it while swimming. Get out as fast as you can would be very good. Luckily we didn’t need to test how fast we could get out of the water.

Beautiful Butterflies

Discovery World Tropical Forest at the Otago museum has around 1,000 imported tropical butterflies. It was hot (for Dunedin), around 30 degrees celsuis (86 Farenheit), and very humid (about 80%). Poor Olivia found it a bit too much, although Hayley, Erica, Annabelle, and me perserved for as long as we could. The forest also includes a variety of tropical plants, but I was so busy looking at, and taking photos of, the beatiful butterflies that I failed to notice the coffee and cardamon plants! You would have thought I might have smelt them.

Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly what types of butterflies these ones are, but here’s a few of my favourite photographs that I took.


Shutter speed 1/60. F-stop f/4. ISO 400


Shutter speed 1/150. F-stop f/3.2. ISO 100


Shutter speed 1/85. F-stop f/4. ISO 200


Shutter speed 1/85. F-stop f/5.6. ISO 400


Shutter speed 1/70. F-stop f/4. ISO 100


Shutter speed 1/160. F-stop f/5.6. ISO 400


Shutter speed 1/120. F-stop f/4. ISO 200


Shutter speed 1/100. F-stop f/4. ISO 800


Shutter speed 1/70. F-stop f/4. ISO 200