Penguins from Oamaru to Otago Peninsula
Since I was visiting Moeraki Boulders which is between Oamaru and the Otago Peninsula, it was convenient to go and see the Blue (Fairy) Penguins and Yellow-eye Penguins in the area.
Yellow-eyed Penguins at Oamaru
The first place I went to was Bushy Beach at Oamaru which I had already visited previously. In the past only a wooden rail separated the public from the penguins as they made their way to their nesting site. This allowed the public to get up and close to the penguins, while not disturbing them. An incredible sight to see. Sadly though there was no such experience this evening and I soon found out why. The beach is accessible to the public during the day but there is a sign asking people not to go down to the beach at certain hours of the day so that the penguins can go out to sea and come back again onto the beach, undisturbed by people who might scare the penguins and stop them from returning to their nests. This evening I saw tourists on the beach who either didn't read the sign or ignored it altogether. I did see two penguins in the distance on the beach but since there were also people on the beach, the penguins weren't that keen on venturing much further up the beach, so seeing two tiny specks (bring binoculars) on the beach was the closest I saw of a Yellow-eyed Penguin tonight. By looking at how overgrown the penguin trail had become and doing a quick internet search on Bushy Beach it became obvious that this was no longer such a good place to come and see or photograph the Yellow-eyed Penguin unless you wanted to further harm this endangered species and go down to the beach.
Yellow-eyed Penguin
Bushy Beach used to be a good place to see Yellow-eyed Penguins in Oamaru
Blue (Fairy) Penguins at Oamaru
There is evening viewing of Blue (Fairy) Penguins down by Waterfront Road in Oamaru. Unfortunately the operators do not allow any photography, it is viewing only. People had gathered around to watch the penguins as they walked into the underground tunnel to cross underneath the road. It was too dark by this time to take any good photos without using a flash. Avoid using the flash on your camera as it blinds the penguins. In summary the Blue (Fairy) Penguins at Oamaru are good for viewing rather than photographing.
Yellow-eyed Penguins on Moeraki Peninsula
South of Oamaru and the Moeraki Boulders is the Kaitiki Historic Reserve on the Moeraki Peninsula. Getting to the car park required driving along both sealed and unsealed road to the end of Lighthouse Road. After a short walk along the fence line I saw a sea lion on the beach and a Yellow-eyed Penguin on the cliff above it. After 10 minutes or so the penguin came down to the beach and swam out to sea. Just around the corner was another penguin standing close to the fence, making it a lot easier to take some good photographs. A short walk later brought me to near the tip of the peninsula with two sea lions sunbathing in front of me and no barriers between us. All this wildlife to see here had made me question why I had never visited before.
Yellow-eyed Penguin at the Kaitiki Historic Reserve
Blue (Fairy) Penguins at Pilots Beach, Otago Peninsula
Less than an hour's drive from Dunedin on the Otago Peninsula is a wildlife centre that looks after the large seabirds called the Royal Albatross. They also have a well-run evening viewing tour of the Little Blue (Fairy) Penguins. After learning that you were allowed to take photographs (no flash photography is allowed) I decided to make a booking for tonight's evening viewing tour. The tour started with a brief talk about the penguins and then a short walk down to a viewing platform above Pilots Beach. It was awesome to see the close groups or "rafts" of penguins swim ashore and wander up the beach to their nesting sites. There was lighting provided making it much easier to photograph the penguins. If you are interested in seeing and photographing Blue (Fairy) Penguins then I recommend you go on this viewing tour.