I must admit I’ve never thought much about Penguins. Why would I? It is not like they roamed the streets of Lexington like they do in New Zealand. Yes that’s right in certain small South Island towns penguins come ashore to nest in and around old waterside buildings. Sometime ago we rolled into one of these towns, Omaru, as part of our South Island tour.
As usual we had reservations at a hostel. It was a cozy homelike place. We showed up on the doorstep to be greeted by the hostess with, “Ah your my Americans, help me fix my computer.” The computer part being directed at Steve. I get this at home all the time. Even over the phone my mom will ask me to report a computer problem straight to Steve for his insight. It seems women everywhere anticipate a boy having more techy skills. In this case Steve’s technical prowess included plugging in the correct plug and she was up in running. Thanks goodness he was there.
After the computer issue was solved the hostess herded us to her car to be driven around in daylight to the places we would need to visit at dusk to see Little Blue Penguins. We stayed at this hostel two nights. On our first night we failed to see the Blues and received a stern lecture about not trying hard enough.
There is a new nature reserve in Omaru where one can pay and watch from benches as the penguins swim home for the night. The locals are divided over this as for years the penguins have had the run of town and nest wherever they like. I’m sure a sanctuary is a good idea, even so we opted for the do it yourself tour. The night after being chastised, we staked out an empty parking lot that was soon not empty as at least ten or so Blues hopped, scooted and chirped their way home.
This area is also home to the Yellow Eyed Penguins. They come ashore in late afternoon on a deserted beach that has look-out platforms on the hill well above the water. On our second night we were very lucky as one penguin, popped up out of the bush and gave the gathered tourists a good long stare. My favorite part was watching the Yellows complete their nightly ritual: swim ashore, pop up out of the surf with a shake and then purposefully waddle home to their hillside nests.
And no, I won’t be smuggling one home to turn it loose in the streets of Lexington.