Monday, April 16, 2018
We started the morning in Omarama and decided to drive to Oamaru, then down to Dunedin. As we were checking out, the very friendly and helpful owner of the Sierra Motels, gave us some tips to improve our driving route. They ended up being the highlights of our day!
First, we took a 20km drive until we reached the Benmore Dam cutoff and followed it until we reached the bridge. After the bridge we turned right and followed the road on the backside of the lake until we reached the bridge near the Aviemore cuttoff. That bridge took us back to the main highway. The views were amazing, the road was a bit narrow, but paved. It added a little time, but it was well worth it!
Next, we drove until the cutoff for Ngapara and drove by the Elephant Rocks. They were quite interesting, although we didn’t get a good picture of them.
The entire drive was filled with beautiful rocky pastureland. If you really zoom in on this photo, you can get the impression of elephants mingling with the cows.
We continued on to Oamaru. We stopped by the Tourist Information and found out that the Blue Penguin Colony had one penguin sitting on a nest in a dark box. Most of the other penguins would not return until after 5:00 PM. Since it was only 11:00 AM, paying $45 to see one penguin sitting in a dark box seemed a bit steep, particularly since we have been to both Sea World and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, both of which have quite good penguin displays.
We wandered by the water and found the Galley Cafe. I had a nice seafood chowder that had a few too many carrots, but was otherwise quite good. Jeremy had a fish sandwich that was also quite good. The view was nice and there was a great playground with a zip-line, a hamster wheel, and other super fun activities. Jeremy even tried them out. 🙂
Oamaru itself has seen better days. There was an old Victorian section of town that gave us an idea of what it was like. Apparently, in the 1880’s it was on par with Los Angeles. Today it is much sleepier, with only glimpses of its heyday. On the way out of town, we stopped by the Yellow-eyed Penguin Colony in the hopes that one might be there, but again, they weren’t expected back until at least 4:00. We did get some nice clifftop views of the beach and heard some nice birds, but otherwise we were out of luck on the penguin front.
We continued our drive and had some beautiful views. The boys managed to get a bunch of school work done.
Before traveling, the boys checked out a bunch of Enchantment of the World books from the library. John liked the section in the New Zealand book about the Moeraki Boulders, so we made a stop there. There are stairs from a clifftop restaurant down to the beach. The tide was quite high, but there was at least 10 feet of dry beach, so we decided to walk about 100 yards to get a closer look. It would have been much cooler at low tide, but we were still able to see them. Unfortunately, the tide was coming in, and we ran from one wave, but got trapped on the cliff. All of our shoes got wet, with the exception of one of mine that escaped when I tried to climb the cliff wall. We ran for the stairs and had no more mishaps.
At the top of the stairs, there was an alpaca farm that the boys loved!
We continued the drive, turning off at the suggested scenic coastal route that started around Waikouati and ended around Warrington. Beautiful and well worth the diversion!
Our drive ended at the Silver Peaks Lodge, an amazing farm stay bed and breakfast in Dunedin!
Keep reading our travel blog for more posts from our Gap Year!
Here are some more posts from this trip to New Zealand:
[…] in Oamaru at lunchtime, the penguins thwarted us by being out playing rather than home, in their colony, so […]