The waters of Dunedin are rich with marine life and some of the world’s largest and rarest seabirds thanks to the cold and rough southern waters. Today, we are hitting the water to watch sea lions, seals, albatross and so much more in their natural habitat!
Pulling up at the harbourside in Dunedin, we check in for the Monarch Wildlife Cruise. As the skipper, Buddy, readies the grand M.V. Monarch, we stand at the wharf marvelling at it’s beautiful design with a raised observation area at the front and even an albatross pictured on the floor. This truly is a wildlife-watching vessel.
We are joined by three other people for the trip down the harbour and a wildlife-spotter on deck, Leena, until we pick up some more people along the Otago Peninsula later on.
Spotted: a real life log
We have barely pulled out from the wharf when Buddy notices something floating in the water. Is it a seal? Is it a rare penguin? A baby whale?! Nope, it’s just a piece of floating wood, which Leena fishes out of the water with a net so it doesn’t damage any small fishing boats.
Waders and shags
After the ocean cleanup, we continue down the harbour in a body of water between the city and suburbs of Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula. Buddy is on the mic for the entire tour, sharing his huge wealth of knowledge on the area, both about the history of Dunedin and of course, all the wildlife we see today. We find out that it’s even a marvel that we are able to cruise down the harbour today, which is only about two metres deep. We see old man made walls revealed at the current low tide from early settlers’ attempts to make the channel deeper, but instead, accumulating more sand behind the wall enjoyed by the wading birds and seabirds, particularly cormorants or “shags” as they are known in New Zealand.