We got up early and had breakfast in the Queen’s bedroom (?!) before checking out and waving goodbye to the lovely little town of Timaru. Our destination today was Oamaru, another sleepy little town about 80km from Timaru, famous for Penguin watching!! On the way out of Timaru, we popped into a local art gallery called Aigantighe (pronounced egg and tie) for a quick look…. they had some very nice pieces of fine art, some aboriginal artwork, and even a couple of Japanese wood block paintings by Hiroshige, which Seio was pleased to see!! New Zealand is quite an art and crafty place, with small galleries like this dotted all over.
We arrived at Oamaru just after midday, and had a quick drive around the town. We came across the old station – now just a freight train stop, but full of character, and also saw some lovely sea views.
Although it was a bit early still, we decided to track down our hotel and check in. Our hotel is run by a nice Chinese man, and is situated on the top of a hill..quite high up so the view of the town and the sea is very nice! The hotel is under a year old, and I have a feeling that Seio and I are the only guests today…the Chinese man was so helpful, he showed us everything from how to operate the TV to a selection of menus from local restaurants. After having a quick cup of coffee and a bite to eat, Seio and I headed out to see what we could find…guess what, we found another botanical garden – complete with Japanese bridge and rose garden!! We do like our garden walks though, especially when the sun is shining. We managed to befriend a cute grey cat, and follow a bunch of ducklings upstream, as well as coming across some people dressed in Victorian clothing, seeing an elephant and spotting Humpty Dumpty!!
After leaving the pretty gardens, we drove back into town to take some photos of the older and more traditional buildings made from Oamaru stone. The architecture is another lovely feature of some of these quiet coastal towns.
Later on we popped into the i-Site information centre to find out what time the penguins were coming home tonight – there are two kinds of penguins in Oamaru: Blue Penguins and Yellow-Eyed Penguins. We decided to go and see if we could locate some Yellow-Eyed penguins and headed off for Bushy Beach Reserve. On the way we stopped off at the Lookout point and got a lovely sea view of the town…we could even see our hotel on the very top of the hill!!
When we reached Bushy Beach Reserve, we parked the car and walked down to the cliff top viewing platform. It was a while before the first penguin came in … he was so far away – a little dot on the beach, but you could still tell it was a Penguin from its waddle!! Another one came in a couple of minutes later and again waddled off onto the cliffside. We also saw a fur seal swimming around just off the shore. It was a while before there was any more penguin action, but then we discovered a penguin the cliffside in the grass! Very cute – he even waved to us at one point (^^)v
Today was a bit of a botanical and zoological adventure – cats, ducklings, sheep, cows, penguins and an elephant!