Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ivory Towers Lodge, Fox Glacier Village, NZ

About Oamaru Lonely Planet says “At first glance, it might not look like there’s a lot going on in Oamaru.” This is true. It took me about two days to find little interesting spots as they’re not often well marked. Oamaru was doing decently well in the 1920’s, and the town seems to have not evolved since. Indeed, some people still wear Victorian clothing to work (really), your purchases are often wrapped up with brown paper and string (seriously), and there’s a yearly penny-farthing bicycle race in town. A penny-farthing bicycle, by the way, is the kind that has a giant front wheel and a tiny back wheel.


As a result the town is used as a filming location pretty frequently. In fact, while I was there they were filming some movie called “Wife’s Flight” or something, in which some women leave Wales(?) to come to New Zealand to be with their husbands. Or something. In the scene I watched being filmed, a guy got onto a bus. But it was set in the 1950’s(?) so it was very exciting.




The main thing to do in Oamaru is to see the penguins, so I got myself a ticket and got myself on the proper bus. First stop is to see the yellow-eyed penguins, who are the rarest penguins.


To see them you get to spend an hour on top of a cliff in the cold wind – in a blind, if you wish, which blocks NO wind, thank you very much –

Me & Jaclyn, freezing our asses off

and wait for them to swim out of the water, toddle along the beach, and disappear.


They say that the penguins then climb the cliffs to their nests where they meet their mates with dinner, but since it’s a hella steep cliff and I didn’t actually see them climbing up, I’m pretty sure there’s an elevator in there somewhere.


We only saw four or five, but that’s about average for nighttime viewings.

Then off to the blue penguin colony where they have stadium seating, and a guide who, J and I decided, moonlighted as a children’s storyteller. She was very emphatic and exuberant, you see. After some chatting she directed our sights out to sea where you could see a small, dark cloud of water working its way towards the shore. From the waves spilled perhaps fifty tiny penguins, who wobbled their way up a cement ramp, over the road, and over to their nesting boxes. They immediately started chattering in that “Hi honey, I’m home!” kind of way. Sometimes they paused in the road for a “Same time tomorrow, Fred?” “See you then, Bob,” exchange.

Then they went into the boxes, came out of their boxes, wandered around, got into scuffles with each other, and wandered around some more, yammering loudly the whole time.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures, so you’ll just have to imagine tiny, snuggly blue penguins.

I have several million photos to upload, so this might take a while. Bear with me.

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