Day 23 pm – Curio Bay, hoping to see the rare nesting yellow eyed penguins after a three hour drive, that could have been back in Dorset England with rolling hills and stunning coastline. Only the verges lined with New Zealand Flax, Galmia setifolia – resembling Pampas grass – and Red Hot Poker in huge clumps showed our real location.
On one side of the cove the beach was long, and sandy with waves perfect for surfing, the walk across the top revealed a different story, rugged, rocky the sea smashing relentlessly, this, apparently a perfect place for penguins.
Seven in the evening we were on the beach to wait for the star attraction, after a rushed evening meal back at camp. The long-suffering and I hooked up with a work colleague of his, her partner and father who happened to be here at the same time. Not a total surprise, just slightly choreographed in timings!
Cold was an understatement, the wind whipped our faces, my four layers just about sufficed although leggings under my walking trousers would have helped the bottom half. Sitting on and off at intervals for two hours on cold rocks gave the hip plenty to gripe about.
The long-suffering chose to wear only two layers and suffered dearly for it as did my ears listening to him citing how bitter it was! Luckily for him the partner of colleague lent him a buff – bandana/headband/hood/neck-scarf/facemask and any other way you can think of! His initial reservations about wearing it soon fell by the wayside, eventually donning it ear muff style under tuition, and along with his full castaway beard he morphed into a true Tom Hanks/hippie!
The penguins – all two of a nesting pair – did appear, unfortunately the long-suffering and I have been watching too many David Attenborough documentaries where thirty plus penguins whoosh up the rocks on crashing waves. A chat to the conservation lady revealed this was one of only three nesting pairs in this area!
Our initial disappointment – we were freezing by now – soon became one of ahhh as first Mrs Yellow eye whooshed out shortly followed by Mr yellow eye. She walked drunken sailor style along and jumped down the rocks to him, they seemed to get intimate for a while before he transferred the fish stored within his person. His job was done, and while Mrs set off along the rocks to their nest Mr gave himself a good clean up.
Us ice cold humans, well we sloped off along with the masses back to the warmth of Aromoana, only this night we had guests, cheese and biscuits from the work colleagues and piping hot cups of tea to warm as all through, perfect end to another perfect day!