Day 28: Back to the mainland

Another early morning today, as we had to catch our flight back to the main island from Stewart Island to Invercargill. The commute in Oban was not too bad, but as the weather had clearly changed the flight would be a little different from the previous one.

The plane showed up, but it was not the same as yesterday, it is even smaller.
With room for only 4 passengers, they crammed in a fifth as he sat next to the pilot. The plane also only had one front mounted propellor. The wind had picked up considerable over the night, so the flight to Invercargill was quite interesting, to say the least. We shook, shuddered, waived, tilted, rolled and then some and even the short 15 minutes were a little bit too long. It was like a giant roller coaster ride!

After collecting our luggage directly from the pilot of the plane our voyage to the Caitlin’s was underway. We took the Coastal Southern Scenic Route which takes you almost directly alongside the ocean in the direction of Dunedin. Along the way, we visited many coves, bays and the likes, among which were two adjacent bays: Porpoise Bay and Curio Bay. The latter is most well know for the Yellow-eyed Penguin, and the first for the smallest species of Dolphin: Hector’s Dolphin.
At Curio bay we were instructed by the friendly volunteer to come back around 7pm, as the parents would come back from the sea to feed the chicks. At Porpoise Bay, the dolphins can be spotted just walking on the beach. We did just that, it was amazing!

As we arrived at the B&B quite early in the day, we asked for some more small things to see and do in the. I invite, and out of the options offered we chose 2.
The first thing we did was visit McLean Falls, which is a three stage waterfall just a few kilometres from where we stay. The second was to visit Cathedral Caves, which are 1 sea cave in the cliff a few kilometres from the falls. This cave is huge! Only accessible 2 hours around low tide, we were lucky to be able to just go there and get in.
Unfortunately though, our way back from the caves featured quite a steep hill to climb, and a pretty heavy rainfall.
Oh well. It was not the first time we’ve gotten wet, and luckily all important things stayed dry.

That night, after dinner in the restaurant of an Olympic Champion (Paralympic, but still) we went back to Curio Bay to see the Yellow-eyed Penguins. This is the rarest species of all 7 types of Penguin, and can only be found in a few places in New Zealand. Only in the last few years have the New Zealanders become pretty protective of these animals, but now they are catching up in their methods, and the species is slowly making its way back from the status of Critically Endangered. All is not well though, as there are about 2000 penguins left. We were on a beach with 9 breeding pairs, which would mean there are between 30 and 35 penguins present at the most. Not a lot!
We were lucky enough to see a parent feeding the chicks, that was an awesome sight!

Tomorrow, we are leaving the Caitlin’s again, this time for Dunedin and more specifically the Otago Peninsula. The say it is really lovely up there!