Yellow-eyed penguins in the Catlins

If you see something that looks like a duck in the water at Roaring Bay* in the Catlins, chances are it’s a hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin. By the time you realise that ducks don’t belong in the sea, the penguin may be upright on its bubble gum pink feet and swaying across the stony shore.

Yellow-eyed penguin at Roaring Bay, the Catlins

Yellow-eyed penguin at Roaring Bay, the Catlins

The yellow band that stretches around the top of a hoiho’s head and into its eyes marks it as one of the world’s rarest penguins, and a breed unique to New Zealand. Hoiho translates to ‘the noise shouter’, … Read the rest

Dunedin Street Art

The last time we were in Dunedin I photographed and wrote about the art work on bus shelters on Otago Peninsula. Two years on, there are more than 25 walls of art in Dunedin city. Much of the art work was facilitated by Dunedin Street Art  volunteers who have helped bring art and artists into the streets. You can find the street art at random or download a Street Art Trail map, or pick up a copy from the i-SITE on The Octagon. A two hour Street Art Tour may also be an option (ask at the i-SITE).

Mural by Filipa (the Fairy) Crofskey

Mural

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Tropical Forest at Otago Museum

The temperature can drop below zero during a Dunedin winter but one place you’re guaranteed to keep warm is in the Tropical Forest at Otago Museum. On the day I was there it was a balmy 35.8 degrees celsius with 64% humidity, I can confirm that’s not enough humidity to make your hair frizz.

Hibiscus can be found in Dunedin

Hibiscus can be found in Dunedin

Butterflies are the main attraction in the Tropical Forest and they arrive in New Zealand in chrysalis form from breeders in Costa Rica and the Philippines. At 11am every day as well as1.30pm weekends and school holidays you can see … Read the rest

Kaimanawa Wild Horses

I opened the envelope of one of the best birthday presents ever last year – I was going on a bus trip to see Kaimanawa wild horses roaming on NZ Army land in Waiouru. Whoop Whoop – the sound of a dream coming true. The Ranges Trips are organised by Kaimanawa Heritage Horses, I was going in November, so there were two months to wait, and like any trip, the anticipation added to the excitement. I spent time wondering  …

How far would we travel to see our first horse? Not far at all. How many wild horses would we Read the rest

Craters of the Moon Geothermal Walk, Taupo

One of the best reasons to visit Craters of the Moon is price – at $8pp it’s affordable, and the good folks at The Craters of the Moon Trust donate part of the income to charity. The 45 minute walk is also pushchair and wheelchair friendly with the exception of the 10 minute uphill detour to the lookout.

Close up of the snowy mountains in Tongariro National Park from Craters of the Moon lookout

Close up of the snowy mountains in Tongariro National Park from Craters of the Moon lookout

Craters of the Moon is part of the Wairakei geothermal field. The steaming craters came to life in the 1950’s with the development of the … Read the rest

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotorua

The star attraction at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is The Champagne Pool with its sun burst orange edges and tiny champagne like bubbles on the surface.

The Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

The Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Elsewhere in the park sulphur colours the landscape yellow and adds a pungent and uniquely Rotorua smell to the air.

Yellow sulphur mounds

Yellow sulphur mounds

Kanuka grows wild along wooden walkways that hug cliff faces and take you over steaming ground to the miniature Lake Ngakoro waterfall.

Walkway to Lake Ngakoro waterfall

Walkway to Lake Ngakoro waterfall

Miniature Lake Ngakoro waterfall

Miniature Lake Ngakoro waterfall

You can’t see the boiling mud at the bottom of Inferno Crater but you … Read the rest

Orakei Korako Geothermal Park, Taupo

There are a number of geothermal sites in Rotorua and Taupo and they all have their own claims to fame – ‘Orakei Korako is arguably the best thermal area left in NZ’ (Lonely Planet), and ‘Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland – one of the 20 most surreal places in the world’ (Trip Advisor).

Orakei Korako - photo taken from geothermal area looking back at the Visitor Centre / MudCake Cafe

Orakei Korako – photo taken from geothermal area looking back at the Visitor Centre / MudCake Cafe

It makes it hard to decide where to go if you have to choose. My aim with posts about geothermal attractions is to highlight what we think are the best reasons for … Read the rest

Ohau Stream Walk – Seal Pups

I’ve mentioned the Ohau Stream Walk near Kaikoura before in a South Island Wildlife post, in November this year we were able to do the walk ourselves. As the calendar below illustrates, the best time to see seal pups is April – September.

Calendar of seal development

Calendar of seal development

We were unsure whether we would see any seals at all in late November but we found six pups frolicking in the small pool underneath the Ohau Stream waterfall. Unfortunately our photography skills were no match for energetic seal pups and most of the photos are out of focus, but here’s the best … Read the rest

Cheers to the New Zealand Falcon

You may handle a form of the New Zealand falcon or karearea every day without realizing – it’s the bird on the back of our $20 note. If you want to handle a falcon for real you may get the chance at Wingspan Bird of Prey Centre in Rotorua. Mike’s hand shot up with the rest of the crowd when there was a chance for Atareta the falcon to perch on the gloved hand of volunteers. Mike’s hand was one of many Atareta was happy to stand on for a photo, but she was determined to get the food … Read the rest

Butterfly & Orchid Garden in Thames

It’s not a flash place the Butterfly & Orchid Garden in Thames, and don’t be put off if you get an unenthusiastic welcome from the cranky guy who runs the onsite holiday park. There is a garden full of butterflies waiting to cheer you up.

Nature's work

Nature’s work

It would be a hard job counting them but a sign says there are around 400 butterflies in the house. Given that a butterfly flutters around for generally less than a month, around 500 are bred onsite every four weeks. Another 500 or so come in chrysalis form from Asia, South America and … Read the rest