Eight Wheels on Peninsula

Not minutes away from the centre of Dunedin is The Peninsula, a stretch of land that curls around Otago harbour and gives stunning views of the coast and city. The drive skirts the coast at close range and in normal NZ style, has no barriers. Coming home even slightly tipsy or a tired, a brief careless moment could end in the sea.

At the very end of the peninsula are two special places where wildlife is given space: the Albatross colony and Penguin beach. In a rash moment we opted for a drive into the penguin and seal areas in a cross between an 8-wheel drive amphibious craft and a golf buggy. This is the only way in and it was certainly worth the hair-raising ride. It began to dawn that it would be no sedate golfing ride from the clouds of dust billowing around the returning trippers and the strained faces. Undaunted, we donned green waterproofs and set off in the early evening climbing straight up narrow rough tracks to the highest point and then plunging down to beach level in what felt like an almost perpendicular drop.
Then the wildlife: NZ fur seals with day old pups viewed from a hide just feet away; two males sparring and, from an earlier battle a defeated corpse lay near by. Rare penguins popping out of the water to run to their nests in the shore bushland on a beach without human presence- except of course we intrepids hiding in the cunningly devised viewing shelter. Native birds in abundance: shags, black backed gulls and albatross (though to confess we did not see this last one). This place was one of Captain Cook’s four corners of the earth which he named as he sailed blindly past the entrance to Otago harbour. Another dog-leg cove like Port Jackson and Milford Sound that he left for others to discover.

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