One of the biggest reasons for living in NZ – penguins! If you are living in or visiting Christchurch you have to experience the Pohatu Penguins trip (http://www.pohatu.co.nz/). I went for the “Pohatu Package” as a Christmas prezzie for Mr M so off we went on the weekend before Christmas.
The trip was almost a wash out as a storm decided to descend over Akaroa for the best part of Saturday. Part of the trip involved a two hour hike to get to the batch (yes, it’s in the Wop Wops!), which we were so pleased to see had a real log fire! When we arrived I played hunter gatherer and went out to find firewood (in a box under the porch…) and Mr M briefed me on using kindling and how to place the wood. After searching the batch high and low for appropriate kindling the best we could do was bog roll. It worked and we were soon nursing hot chocolates with our shoes and socks drying by the fire. I decided to play the wild card and opt for the “Colonial Cottage”, which is the quirky batch with heaps of character…. but no electricity supply! It did have gas so we could cook and a hot water supply from solar panels. I must admit the batch was pretty cool! It was placed right in the middle of the rolling hills with nothing else in sight apart from a couple of sheep as neighbours (who decided to talk to each other at 6am the cheeky sods). To add to the excitement the batch was located right inside the penguin colony and there was even a nest behind the cottage!
Anyway, enough about the batch. On Saturday evening the tour guide took us around the colony. At the moment some of the penguins are being rehabilitated back to health so they can return to sea. Some chicks were a bit on the small side and one had an infected foot. We watched as the tour guide fed the penguins, which gave us great opportunity to see the white flippered penguins up close. The one with the infected foot hadn’t quite lost all of his downy feathers and had a cross of bright blue adult feathers with a brown affro! We then made our way to the look out point to see the penguins come back from a day at sea. At this point it was still raining and starting to get pretty cold so we didn’t stay long and headed back to start another fire at the batch.
The next day we were supposed to take the kayak’s out but the ocean hadn’t recovered from the unstable weather so we couldn’t go out. On the plus side the rain had stopped and the sun came out. Instead we walked along part of the Banks Peninsular Track. To our surprise we saw two wee penguin chicks nesting in their box. They looked a little timid (understandably!) so we admired them for a wee while and left them to it in their box.
All in all the trip was great. We plan to do it again, but next time try and book last minute when we know it’s not going to rain. Penguins are in season from late September through to early February. The tour guide mentioned that April can be good for kayak tours as the penguins are all out on the rocks at that time of year.
On our way home to Christchurch we stopped for lunch in Little River. The diner we stopped in was really nice. We sat outside in the sunshine and ate tasty burgers. We even saw the chef go outside to the veggie patch just behind us and pull some more lettuce out of the ground! Can’t get fresher than that!