Day 218 on the Road
Feeding Little Blue Penguin Chicks
Today we’re joining Pohatu Penguins for their evening penguin tour! (Oh yeah, and our campervan is destroyed). If you like this video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities then jump on over to our epic YouTube Channel!
Today we’re leaving Christchurch for the small French town of Akaroa. Today we’re gonna see the largest little blue penguin colony on mainland New Zealand.
After a morning of campervan certification which was pretty much useless a bit of despair ok, a lot of despair, and a lot of phone calls we finally made it to Akaroa for our evening activity.
But that’s a story of the end of this episode, for now we’re super stoked to be joining Avril from Pohatu Penguins whose gonna be taking us to the largest little blue penguin colony of New Zealand.
But getting to the colony is an adventure in itself as we’re driving through some pretty gnarly gravel roads to get to Flea Bay and along thew way we see some amazing scenery of the Akaroa Harbour.
Along the way, Avril shows us her favourite viewpoints and some native insects called a weta. Once we arrive in Flea Bay though we get a pretty enthusiastic greeting from the sheep.
It’s really weird to find sheep so domesticated they are super enthusiastic about their food. They know that every single day at the same time the tour is coming and every single tourist is wanting to feed them.
After feeding those voracious beasts we are heading to a hanger where we’re gonna be given some camo gears to disguise ourselves for the penguins.
What you doing, Laura? They call be the ranger of Akaroa.
The little blue penguins don’t have really good eyesight so a simple camo jacket makes them not see us around and make them too stressed during their feeding time because yes, right now it’s feeding time.
As part of the conservation work that pohatu penguins does in the Banks Peninsula they are rescuing all the chicks which are left behind from penguin pairs that don’t come back to their nests. If they’re not fed they will just be dying in their little box so Pohatu Penguins collect them and feed them by hand every single evening.
And everybody’s a winner with that. Because the little blue penguins are getting fed and getting strong enough to be released into the wild and be able to feed for themselves, and we are lucky enough to be able to encounter the little blue penguin closer than ever. It’s a really intimate experience and it’s awesome to see them behave.
They are really greedy they are really really greedy.
On top of Flea Bay having the largest penguin colony in New Zealand they also have their own special species.
Little blue this is a little white flippered. So your white flippered are the Canterbury variant of the little penguin.
The team from Pohatu penguins have been looking after these little blue penguins for years and this lady here, Shireen, is actually avril’s aunty so it’s a family business as well. She’s feeding the little blue penguins some anchovies by hand and she feeds about six chicks while we’re here.
During this super close-up encounter of the penguin feeding there’s loads of different guides around telling us about the life cycles of these little blue penguins and also they are super keen to answer all our questions. It’s a really interactive session and really feels a personal experience.
The feeding section is really interesting. First we get to see those little chicks in different stages of their life. Some of them still have a lot of down feathers meaning that some of them are still really young and absolutely not ready to go into the wild by themselves but some of them have completely lost their whole down feathers and they already look like adult little blue penguins meaning that they are almost ready to be released.
And after the interactive feeding session it’s time for us to go to see a lot of adult little blue penguins as we’re heading toward the colony.
Along the way we stop at a few boxes just to help with the counting so we are opening the box making sure there is a lot of wet faeces meaning that bids are still coming to the nest and we check how many chicks there are.
So we’re seeing here a variable oystercatcher with its chick. yeah. So these are an endangered species the variable oystercatchers not to get confused with the pied oystercatcher.
As we’re making our way toward the main colony we see a lot of stuff and dusk is the best time to check the blue penguin colony because that’s the time of the day when they are coming back from fishing for the whole day out at sea.
Along a walking track on the clifftops there’s loads of different viewing hides so we can watch the little blue penguins and not disturb their natural behaviour but the penguins is not the only thing we’re seeing seals and lots of other different seabirds and marine mammals.
This tour felt like a super non-intrusive way to get close up to the little blue penguins. It was awesome.
Pretty much our campervan has broken down. Just after its warrant of fitness. How how how? How how how does that happen?
Every six months we get ourselves a certificate of fitness for the campervan so we can legally drive it in New Zealand and today’s the day.
Knowing this campervan like I do, I think it’s gonna have a very slim chance of passing its COF.
I think it’s gonna pass it’s COF for the first time in it’s life this camper will pass the COF.
So apparently our campervan did pass it’s COF so it’s a certificate of fitness so our campervan is fit for the road. It’s roadworthy for an extra six months. How? I don’t know cos it’s clearly piece of pap but it passed it’s COF so legally we can drive it for a little longer.
And little did I know that banking on driving this campervan a little longer was really optimistic as soon as we hit the road we are stopped by a big engine failure.
Just passed the COF. Yay.
There is no better feeling than parking the campervan on the side of the road, putting the warning signs on trying to figure out what’s wrong, right?
Good thing is our activity today is at 6.30 so we’ve got plenty of time.
Because our campervan is 3.5 tonnes there is not even a chance for us to change a wheel by ourselves so we have to call roadside assistance which quickly have a look at the campervan and says I don’t think you have an engine anymore so he’s putting it on the back of the truck and we have to figure out where to put it and how to travel around.
Our campervan is getting a piggy back ride. Cos it’s stupid. Worthless.
As we’re making our way back to Christchurch in the roadside assistance truck Robin is devising a plan of attack.
Well, we might not get to do our activity tonight so we need to film some stuff.
Robin is phoning every car rental company in Christchurch cos we don’t want this adventure to end we still want to be able to do 365 activities in 365 days.
Alright, so our campervan is in somewhere called Little River in the parking lot of a mechanic for the next week or so because there were no one else that wanted to take our campervan for now. Now we are in a small shopping mall called Halswell which is on the south of Christchurch and we are waiting for a cab to make our way to the Christchurch Airport where believe it or not we are picking up a minibus from Jucy because that’s the last thing that they have and they still got our back rising to the occasion and helping us for the second time when our campervan screws it up. Then we’re making our way to Akaroa where I actually found one of my friends who has a spare house no, a spare…. Whose cousin… yeah, whose cousin has a house in the back of her garden has a spare room in it where we’ll be able to spend our first night in Akaroa. It’s only one night so we still need to find the remaining six nights in Akaroa and probably at 6pm today, it’s quarter past four but at 6.30 today we are going on a tour. Oh the taxi is here. We’re going on a tour to go check out the blue penguins. That is a pretty epic journey mission today.
Alright let’s go.
After picking up our car from Jucy we are then heading to the mechanics where our campervan is manically packing up all we need for the next week in Akaroa. Packing that into the Jucy car and making our way to Akaroa and to the Pohatu Penguins tour on time.
Anyway with this massive Damocles sword above our head we arrive right on time for our Pohatu Penguin tour. Woo what an intro!