Disappearing Passengers and Swarming Blue Penguins Otago, New Zealand
Today is a day on the move. We have a four-hour drive to the Auckland Airport, a 1.5-hour plane flight to the South Island, and a 1-hour drive to our lodging for the night. Along the way, we wander the Dunedin Railway Station farmers market, explore Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, and spot blue penguins at the Royal Albatross Centre.
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Christchurch
We fly with the most conversational pilot I have ever heard on the way down to the South Island. As he explains, he is half Italian. This is meant as context after his open frustration announcing that 9 people are missing from the plane. We will wait for them to be located.
Five minutes later, with the missing passengers still unaccounted for, we are delayed as the bags of said passengers are removed from the hold..
“It’s very difficult to loose 9 people in this terminal,” observes our captain, poking fun at Aukland Airport’s square footage relative to other international terminals.
Ten minutes later, we are informed that the passengers actually are present on the plane. Some bureaucratic shenanigans lost 9 people in the paperwork. No one thought to look in the back at the completely full plane. Now we wait for the baggage that had been removed to be brought back to the plane.
My confidence in this flight was not quite where I would like it when the plane begins to taxi.
All the same, we arrive on the South Island safe and sound after a brilliant fly-by of the mountain range. This is yet another beautiful place.
Farmers Market at the Dunedin Railway Station
With our rental cars picked up for the island, our day was not quite over. It is about lunch time, so we head over to the Dunedin Railway Station for their weekly farmers market. We sample crepes, dumplings, bagels, cheese, and apples as we walk around New Zealand’s most photographed building.
The station, also known as “Gingerbread George” after its architect George Troup, was built in 1903. At the time, it was the busiest station in New Zealand, serving Dunedin’s commercial and industrial demands as well as a hub for the more remote mining, farming, and timber industries. Today, sightseeing trains continue to pick up passengers at the Dunedin Railway Station daily.
A Classic Camper at the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum
Once our stomachs were full and my photography itch sated, we moved on to explore the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. It highlights the history and culture of the people who have and do live in and around Dunedin. Along with the displays of keepsakes, tools, fashion, and art what quickly drew my attention was a streamlined, post-World War II caravan on display in the far back. Based on marine and aircraft design, this caravan was built between 1947 and 1948 with 5/16″ marine ply side panels and a plywood base frame.
Little Blue Penguins at the Royal Albatross Centre
The Royal Albatross Centre plays host to many remarkable species. The albatross receive special protections here, along with other water foul, seals, and the tiniest penguin in the world: the little blue penguin. We walk along the cliff-sides and shores to watch sea birds and seals take a breather before returning to the open water.
The Little Blue Penguin
As the sky darkens, we gather at the sanctuary for an evening viewing of the little blue penguin. These little penguins spend their days at sea but nest at night in the overgrown mountainside along the shore. Each evening, at dusk, penguins gather in the surf to make a mad dash for the shelter of the bushes, hoping to find safety in numbers from larger predators. We gather on a viewing dock where we can watch groups of penguins scamper up the beach.
Despite my best efforts, the low lighting, speedy penguins, and jostling onlookers meant that most pictures were blurred past recognition. Here are the best I could muster of these little cuties.