Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Down South, and more close encounters with penguins

The area known as the Catlins at the very south-western tip of South Island is a place that many New Zealanders haven't visited. Whilst it's remote and beautiful, with a rugged coast and some wonderfully green forests, the weather has a bit of a reputation. If the wind switches to a southerly, an icy blast brings sleet up from the Antarctic. We were lucky to have a couple of good days down there, though the nights were cold, so enjoyed walking the coastline.

A few hundred yards from our campsite, we discovered the workshop and gallery of an amazing artist / inventor called Blair Somerville who takes scrap metal, seashells, light bulbs and driftwood and turns it into hugely amusing sculptures and moving machines.

The amazing 'junk organ'

A hand-cranked whale

With Cyclone Lusi threatening to head south down the east coast (after battering the coast up where Maunie is moored), we left the Catlins to head to the city of Dunedin, but not before a stop off at the impressive Nugget Point lighthouse and nature reserve, way down at 46 degrees, 27 minutes south.

The Nuggets

Old and new lighthouse technology - the LED beacon at the front has replaced the original fresnel lens and 1000W light bulb in the gallery behind

The weather for Saturday night through to Monday morning promised gales and lashings of rain so we decided that we'd forego the delights of the tent for a couple of nights.  We found a brilliant budget room in a farm cottage out on the Otago Peninsula - the farm is also the home of the Penguin Centre, a conservation operation dedicated to the protection of the rare Yellow Eyed Penguin which nest on the beaches here. Neadless to say Dianne was absolutely delighted to go on a tour - there are hides and tunnels which allow people to view these shy animals in the wild without disturbing them - and also to visit the 'hospital' where underweight chicks or injured adults are nursed to full fitness before being returned to the wild. 

Adults in moult, an annual painful episode in Penguin life

Flax, an eight year old male

Dianne gets amazingly close to Flax as we wanders past her

This penguin is turning left

The weather looks better tomorrow so we'll head north. 

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