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Place Category: Trip Reports
I spent a long weekend in New Zealand in October 2003 during which I managed to see all but one of New Zealand’s speciality mammals. It’s a pretty country but I found some of the whale and dolphin watching trips quite frustrating because they seemed aimed primarily at throughput of people, rather than animal watching.
Akaroa – is a good spot to find the endemic Hector’s Dolphin. Not easy to find from land, I spent several hours at a couple of good vantage points over the bay in calm conditions without any luck. But the dolphin swimming boat trip got onto them pretty easily.
Kaikoura – is scenically stunning, with its snow capped mountains rising up from the shore. Dusky Dolphins are easily seen on the dolphin swimming trips, and New Zealand Fur Seals haul out near town. Sperm Whales are seen on 90% of whale watching trips. Many other species are seen occasionally – I saw a Humpback Whale in July 2004. Southern Right Whale Dolphins are occasionally reported in mid winter.
Mount Okahune – is one of the better places to see the rather rare Short-tailed Bats. I picked one up with a basic bat detector at the start of the Blyth trail on the way up the mountain and had repeated views of it as it flew fast and low through the forest. Nearby – at Lake Rotakura – I saw briefly what was probably a Long-tailed Bat, New Zealand’s other chiropteran species.
Otago Peninsula – is a convenient spot to see Hooker’s Sea Lions. Twenty or so were hauled out on a beach at the end of the peninsula in October. Eco Tours along the peninsula are run out of Dunedin – a dreary town that looks depressingly like Edinburgh with the locals even sounding Scottish. The tour should find both the sea lions and Yellow-eyed Penguins.