Friday, 28 November 2014

The Catlins

The Catlins is the area in the southeastern corner of the South Island of New Zealand. The combination of rugged coastlines, spectacular waterfalls and temperate rainforest tempted us into a day trip from Dunedin.

Our first intended stopping point was The Nuggets but we couldn't resist the stop at Kaka Point to check out the views. It was so windy that I needed a very fast shutter speed to freeze the movement of the foreground grasses in the view over Molyneux Bay so I bumped the ISO up to 1600 for this shot.

Molyneux Bay from Kaka Point, Otago NZ
Pentax K-5, Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, ISO 1600, f/8 1/3200

It was a little calmer around the corner.

The Nuggets from Kaka Point, Otago NZ
Pentax K-5, Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 @ 20mm
ISO 400, f/5.6 1/800

When we reached The Nuggets, it was raining heavily so we opted for a quick view from the lookout near the car park but declined the longer walk to the lighthouse. The tiny white dots in the vegetation on the right side of the large conical rock in the mid ground are Royal Spoonbill, the second place in New Zealand where we saw them precariously roosting on rugged oceanic coastlines (we saw them earlier in the week at Taiaroa Head), having never seen this in Australia.

View from Lookout at Nugget Point, Otago NZ
Pentax K-5, Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, ISO 1600, f/8 1/3200

When we returned to Kaka Point, we found a flock of Black-backed Gulls (= Kelp Gulls) on the beach at Kaka Point with The Nuggets in the background just as the sun came out.

Black-backed Gull, Kaka Point Beach, Otago NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 400, f/6.3 1/2000
Black-backed Gull, Kaka Point, Otago NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/6.3 1/2000

As the rain returned, we decided that the best place to be was the rainforest so we headed for Purakaunui Falls,

Purakaunui Falls, Otago NZ
Pentax K-5, Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, ISO 80 f/22 0.4 sec
Rainforest floor at Purakaunui Falls, Otago NZ
Pentax K-5, Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 @ 20 mm, ISO 80, f/8 1/6 
Path at Purakaunui Falls, Otago NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm
ISO 1600, f2.8 1/500

As we walked through the rainforest to and from the falls, we saw several small dark birds with flashes of white and yellow but it was not until right at the end of the walk back near the car park that one of the Tomtits sat still long enough to be photographed.

Tomtit, Purakaunui Falls, Otago NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200 @ 200 mm, ISO 1600, f/2.8 1/1600

The other place I wanted to see was the Petrified Forest at Curio Bay. The rock platform on the beach has many petrified tree trunks exposed in the rocks at low tide.

Petrified Forest, Curio Bay, Southland, NZ
Pentax K-5, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 35mm, ISO 400, f/8 1/1250 
Petrified Forest, Curio Bay, Southland, NZ
Pentax K-5, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 35mm, ISO 400, f/8 1/1000

While photographing the petrified logs in the rocks, I spotted a Variable Oystercatcher nearby.

Variable Oystercatcher, Curio Bay, Southland NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm, ISO 400, f/8 1/320

Not far away was its mate with two small chicks.

Variable Oystercatcher, Curio Bay, Southland NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm, ISO 400, f/8 1/500
Variable Oystercatcher, Curio Bay, Southland NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm, ISO 400, f/8 1/500

Neither of us has ever seen Oystercatchers with chicks before so we were enthralled watching these tiny, bobble-heads wandering around the rocky reef ably defended by their parents, so much so that neither of us noticed the Yellow-eyed Penguin scramble out of the water right beside me (we had to be alerted by another couple waving at us and pointing at the penguin).

Yellow-eyed Penguin, Curio Bay, Southland NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm @200mm,  f/2.8, ISO 400, f/8 1/640

I took a few steps back to give the penguin more space and get a shot of it with wider surrounds.

Yellow-eyed Penguin, Curio Bay, Southland NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm,  ISO 400, f/5.6 1/800

Jo managed to capture me taking the shot above.

Curio Bay, Southland NZ
(Photo courtesy Joanne Smissen)

The penguin seemed unperturbed by us and the other ten or so people on the beach watching it at a respectful distance. It walked right by me less than ten metres away.

Yellow-eyed Penguin, Curio Bay, Southland NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm,  ISO 400, f/5.6 1/800
Yellow-eyed Penguin, Curio Bay, Southland NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm
ISO 400, f/5.6 1/800
Yellow-eyed Penguin, Curio Bay, Southland NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm,  ISO 400, f/5.6 1/800
Yellow-eyed Penguin, Curio Bay, Southland NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm
ISO 400, f/5.6 1/800

feet audibly plopping through the shallow puddles left by the receding tide.

Yellow-eyed Penguin, Curio Bay, Southland NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm
ISO 400, f/5.6 1/1000
Yellow-eyed Penguin, Curio Bay, Southland NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm
ISO 400, f/5.6 1/800

Occasionally stopping for a stretch, before heading into the dunes.

Yellow-eyed Penguin, Curio Bay, Southland NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm
ISO 400, f/5.6 1/800

I have had some great wildlife experiences in my life but this one will be remembered as one of the special ones but it was time to head back to Dunedin as we had another experience booked and paid for at the Royal Albatross Centre.

3 comments:

  1. Great stuff Ian, enjoyed it, tech details too were interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wonderful post andI especially loved seeing the Penguin.

    ReplyDelete

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