The Otago Peninsula
We leave the Catlins to go along the coast leading to Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula. After taking the precaution of refueling, we make our way to the peninsula for a day of endemic stops on this small peninsula.
Our first stop will be south of Dunedin, before reaching the peninsula roads, following the steep path that will take us to the rocky cliffs of the coast and an arch naturally carved by the sea. The sky is gray, the places delight us, the strong wind of the sea and the rocks hot sand tones make this place a landscape worth seeing. Attracted by this environment we will go for a walk on the arch and will gladly take the stairs dug into the cliff, representing the only pedestrian access to the beach below. A foretaste that will prick our curiosity to explore the peninsula.
We finally enter in the famous Otago peninsula by the Portobello coastal road.
If you dream of an idyllic road for a van trip, this one must surely be in the New Zealand’s top 10.
It’s quite simple, we can’t imagine how we could be closer from the water. This road, a bit tortuous, runs along the peninsula’s north coast. It’s slow way to drive on, first because it’s dangerous to go fast, then because it reveals a splendid view over the whole bay of Dunedin. It’s difficult to stop to take some pictures, but the ride is full of charm.
We decide to follow the coastal road to the end of the peninsula, Harington Point. There, you can find the center dedicated to royal albatrosses. The entrance to the center is free and provides general informations about the specimen. However, the observation tour that will take you closer to these sky giants is well and truly paying.
If you plan to go for the tour, pay attention to visit it during the nesting and hatching season, to see the adults take care of their offspring.
Finding the price excessively expensive, we waited a few minutes to the point of view next to the car park, to see an adult specimen hovering rapidly over the center before disappearing.
We continue the visit by taking a track which will lead us, this time, along the peninsula southern coast. After a few minutes of this gravel road we reach the Allans beach car park. After a short walk we arrive on a beautiful and wide white sand beach surrounded by rocky cliffs, where the sea lions come to take a nap. We spent a few minutes watching, fascinated, these big animals, before leaving the place, outraged by the stupidity and lack of respect of some visitors to the environment and wildlife.
We take back our coastal gravel road before climbing the hills and drive a little deeper into the land to reach a walk departure. At the parking a first point of view is accessible after 500m of steep track. The place deserves a good pruning, but once you take a look above the thickets you can see Sandfly bay in the distance. Nothing extraordinary on this side. However, the walk that leads to the chasm is, for its part, of an entirely different interest. The small walk that passes under a pine forest, then through the herds and pastures, is cute and the arrival to the chasm quite surprising. Even if it’s difficult to see the extent of the fault, it’s not hard to be aware of its dangerousness, and the view on the bay below is really beautiful.
After this last stop we chose to take the road to Dunedin preferring not to stop on Sandfly Bay, nor the Larnach castle visit that didn’t seem essential. We spent a small day on this peninsula, which contrasts perfectly with Dunedin’s activity, and allows a discovery of the wild fauna and flora near the big city. It’s a charming aside with sublime landscapes that is certainly worth visiting when you plan to go to Dunedin.