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Lake Ruataniwha, Moeraki Boulders, Shag Point and the Otago Peninsula landscapes and wildlife

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Hyperlink image showing Sandfly Bay, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand Hyperlink image showing Winter Garden Glasshouse, Dunedin Botanic Garden, Otago, New Zealand Hyperlink image showing Immature Yellow-eyed Penguin Otago Peninsula, New Zealand Hyperlink image showing Taiaroa Head, Otago Peninsula

Twizel to Dunedin, via Takiroa and Wairepo Arm

It needs to be another early start for the drive from Twizel to Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula, to allow for sightseeing stops at:

Just south of Twizel on SH8 is Lake Ruataniwha and Wairepo Arm – a striking place for landscape photography in the early morning light especially with low cloud.

The early drive south from through the flat valley with mountains on either side was surprising, there were many buzzards perched on the side of the road, no chance of getting a photo as they fly off when you stop.

Leave SH8 and make a right onto SH83 for the next stop, which is Takiroa Maori Rock Art Site located about 3 km before the Duntroon – Maori culture but not photogenic and parts of the rock face have collapsed. The SH83 meets the SH1 near the coast, which runs north to Picton and south to Invercargill. Make a right onto SH1 and take a couple of detours on the way to Dunedin.

The first short detour is to Moeraki to see the boulders on Koekohe Beach. These large boulders formed on the ocean floor, millions of years ago, and revealed after centuries of coastline erosion. They make interesting photographic subjects as did the Immature Spotted Shag (Stictocarbo punctatus) also sharing the beach.

Continue south on the SH1 and make a left onto Shag Point Road and drive to the end, home to many forms of wildlife – Fur Seals (Arctocephalus forsteri) hauled out on the rocks and Antarctic Terns (Sterna vittata). There is a Yellow Eyed Penguin colony but they probably stayed in their burrows because it was raining and I didn't see any. The evidence of coal mining, which ceased in 1972, clutters the area - some interesting photographic subjects.

Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Arrive in Dunedin around 2 pm, check-into the motel and then drive to Sand Fly Bay on the Otago Peninsula to view the yellow-eyed penguins. The best viewing time for the penguins is late afternoon and early evening.

The following morning, visit the Dunedin Botanic Garden and after lunch set off for the Pilots Beach and Taiaroa Head on Otago Peninsula. There are two wildlife tours: the Royal Albatross Centre and Natures Wonders, both worthy of a visit, but book ahead.

We booked the Allan Court Motel on George Street, a good base for visiting attractions such as the Botanic Garden, city centre, local eateries and the Otago Peninsula. The restaurants seemed less expensive than equivalents elsewhere in New Zealand; I guess the proximity to the University helped.