If you find yourself in the New Zealand city of Dunedin The Thirsty Travellers thoroughly recommend setting aside six hours for an eco tour of the Otago Peninsula.
We chose Elm Tours for our adventure, which turned out to be a great call. Our guide was a vivacious Chilean called Claudia who is midway through writing her PhD thesis on the rare Hector’s dolphins – the smallest and rarest marine dolphins in the world. They’re mainly found at Akaroa, near Christchurch and Ginger is very keen to return to New Zealand asap to check them out. They have distinct black facial markings, short stocky bodies and a dorsal fin shaped like a Mickey Mouse ear.
Our six-hour tour was timed for a late afternoon arrival on the Otago Peninsula and kicked off with a visit to an albatross sanctuary, before we headed to a remote beach to observe yellow-eyed penguins, take selfies with snoring sea lions and gaze at a seal colony that included a baby fur seal that was so new to the world it still had its umbilical cord attached.
We also saw our first-ever baby seagulls, wandering around all fluffy and grey, where do they hide in Australia?
So many wow moments!
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at a cool cafe called Oaken – being a university town Dunedin is full of good coffee spots. Oaken’s modern design was inspired by the container malls of Christchurch and it offers beautifully presented food, plus great coffee.
Afterwards, we headed to Dunedin Farmers Market – nestled beside the quaint and stately train station – where we nibbled on delicious cheeses and licked ice creams made by the stall keeper’s grandfather.
It was a lovely start to the day and it’s worth having a wander through Dunedin train station afterwards. Like much of the city, it looks like it’s straight out of Scotland.
We’d have liked a little longer in Dunedin, as it had a great feel to it, but we needed to hit the road for our next overnight destination, Nugget Point, with a brief stop long the way at a seaside village called Brighton, where the hardy locals were splashing in the 12C surf in bikinis. Brrrrr …
Another great day in New Zealand’s South Island.