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Published: March 22nd 2018
Today we head further south along SH1 to Oamaru, which is allegedly popular with penguins. Following our lack of success in finding seals, I have my expectations set to low.
We stop at Timaru, which my guide book describes as a small port city. I have visions of a quaint little fishing town. It’s actually a stonking great container port. We stretch our legs with a wander round Caroline Bay Park with gardens running to sand dunes and the beach. It has a nice rose garden, some weird sculptures and a rather sad aviary. We briefly consider leaving the doors open to liberate the birds.
Timaru also has an art gallery. This has even weirder sculptures but very little art, most of the interior is earthquake damaged and cordoned off. The only exhibition is called blue & gold. All the paintings on one side are blue, all the paintings on the other side are gold. We do not stay long.
We continue to Oamaru. My guide book describes it as NZ’s coolest town. It’s 10 degrees colder than it was in Christchurch yesterday, so I’m inclined to agree. We envisaged a nice picnic on the beach, but end
up eating in the car overlooking a windswept, deserted beach before checking into our accommodation, which is basically a shed in someone’s back garden.
There is a brief discussion about paying $60 for the possibility of seeing some penguins. We opt instead for an afternoon nap. Or rather we agree to take a nap, the old man falls asleep and I help myself to the little bottle of complementary fizz our host has left in the fridge.
The weather is atrocious but we decide to head to Bushy Beach nature reserve which has a hide where you can watch yellow eyed penguins come ashore. We spot four; two in the water, two on the beach. We are very excited and take photos even though they’re obviously too far away. Then pore over the photos trying to pinpoint the penguins which of course we can’t. But we’re excited to have spotted them nonetheless.
Ironically, having failed to spot seals at the seal colony, the beach is teaming with them. They lie there for a while then head into the ocean for some frolicking in the waves.
We planned to explore Oamaru but the weather is getting worse
so we return to our shed and spend the evening watching tv.
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