After Dunedin, the next stop in our New Zealand trip was the beautiful Otago Peninsula where we met some lazy sea lions and penguins sunbathing on the beach - something that we definitely cannot miss out on while we were there.
After a short stay in the city of Dunedin (see previous location), we spent some time in the Otago Peninsula located at the northeast of Dunedin City and harbour. You’ll need at least one full day to see some of the charming places, bays, and beaches that this peninsula has to offer. Here are some of the places we discovered that I highly recommend for you to visit!
The best is to first go towards the head of the peninsula, called Taiaroa Head. The road from Dunedin to Taiaroa is a beautiful one as the bay and harbour of Dunedin is very narrow and you can always see the other side of the bay. Midway to Taiaroa, we stopped at Broad Bay which was impressive not just for its size but also because it was low tide and there were a lot of birds picking up their food in the bay. After this bay, we followed the road to the head, and once we got there, we were really amazed with the impressing landscape in front of our eyes: a big rock with a lighthouse marks the end of this very long peninsula which has an amazing viewpoint.
Taiaroa is also well known to have one of the most important colonies of the Southern Royal Albatross, and it’s also an important nesting place for these birds. But as we went there in July, it was already the migration period for these huge, impressive birds and their little ones beginning to fly, that’s why we didn’t get to see so much of them. But you still have a lot of birds to see!
After Taiaroa, we went a bit back on the same road and then took another direction towards the other side of the peninsula, with huge sand beaches directly in front of the South Pacific Ocean. We were told about some mysterious pyramids that we should absolutely visit, and after some wrong directions we finally found the place called “The Pyramids”. In fact, these Pyramids are two natural rock formations in a triangular form in a wide open space leading to Victoria Beach. Of course, we couldn’t resist climbing to the top of one of these two pyramids (the little one was easier…) to admire the view. From there, we were off to our little excursion to Victoria Beach, another huge and wide sand beach. We were totally alone in this place, nobody else was there and we had the impression that we were meant to have all this space for us alone: absolutely magical!
And finally, one last place that can’t be missed on the Otago Peninsula is the Sand Fly Beach, which is well known to have a colony of sea lions and penguins, so we couldn’t miss that of course! Once again, we took some wrong roads as there aren’t any signs and indications, but that’s part of the adventure which allows you to discover more things. Finally we came to a dead end where we could park our car and follow a little path down to the beach. Once again, these sand beaches are amazing, but we weren’t alone: the sea lions were there, lying on the sand, being lazy and enjoying the sun. They’re not really dangerous if you respect the rules and don’t bother them. Of course, if you go very close, if you disturb a mother with her baby, you can be sure that they’ll get angry. And even if they seem very heavy and fat, they can run very fast! So always stay a few meters away, never walk between them and the sea (as the sea is where they will escape to) and of course never between a mother and her child.
When you have this in mind, you can enjoy observing them on the beach. At the end of the beach is a hidden observatory where you can look at the penguins, seals, and sea lions when they come back from their daily chase at the sea. So just sit down, observe, and enjoy!