We left Kaka Point along the scenic highway for a bit before picking up State Highway 1 again. We had a four hour or so drive north. Not far from Dunedin city limits is the Otago Peninsula – our destination.
Otago is surrounded by water and getting there is along the curvy, arrow, hilly roads which seem to be normal for the South Island. We were staying in an Airbnb called "treetop cottage." It was aptly named as it was way up on Treetop Rd – in fact we couldn't find it at first because we didn't quite go far enough. The last part of the road looked like a driveway – but it was indeed the street.
This was a nice place with great views and very private. It thankfully had a wood stove (and lots of cut wood) because it was still pretty chilly at night. Nice birdsong, trees and views of the hillsides made this a pleasant stop. We did have some type of critter living in the roof that was a bit noisy at night and daybreak!
Otago is known for outdoor activities, hiking and wildlife – yellow-eyed penguins, seals, and the Royal Albatross. It also is a wine producing area renowned for its Pinot grapes (if you ever see a Pinot Noir from Otago in New Zealand – you won't be sorry). There are also lots of sheep and cows around these parts.
We ventured out for a few walks along different types of trails. One was for outlooks in the bush – to the "chasm" and "Lover's Leap." That pretty much describes the views...deep natural chasm in the rocks and Lover's Leap had a nice natural arch/bridge that was carved into the rocks by the sea. The hikes were through some private land so we shared the views with sheep. They are pretty much everywhere.
The next day we went along a lower area beach in search of the seals. We saw one big one lazing on the sand but the others could only be seen in the distance. It was a nice walk along the shore. A very large bevy of black swans was also sighted swimming in one of the bays.
We dined in the community of Portobello (very different than the Portobello we knew in Panama). It was a nice small town along the waterfront.
We enjoyed our few days here and then moved on towards the northern part of the South Island. To break up the long drive, we made a one night stop in Timaru. We arrived early enough for a great walk around a very pretty park with a cool aviary, boardwalk along the beach, rose garden, and many other attractions including a pool, mini golf, frisbee golf course, little train, skate park in a grassy park with lovely statues, memorials, and art. It was good to stretch after the drive and would make the next day's trip to Kaikoura more reasonable.
Kaikoura is next!