The Monarch Cruises and Penguin Place combination tour in Dunedin, New Zealand, was one of our favorite experiences. The cruise gave us another view of the albatrosses we had seen at the Royal Albatross Center the evening before. Here we could see them glide just above the water on the ocean. It also brought us close to gulls nesting on buoys and boats, which apparently hadn’t been used in a while. However, the two best sightings were the dusky dolphins that swam along with our boat, and a lone blue penguin floating on the water.
Monarch Cruise provides warm coats for the trip out on the ocean, which were a must-wear. Passengers also get a small snack and a cup of tea or coffee at the beginning of the trip. Mother Nature provides the seals, grebes and other birds, as well as wet feet (wear waterproof shoes) as the ocean came onto the back deck.
The Penguin Place is a private company that is funded by tourism. The property owner noticed that yellow-eyed penguins were coming ashore on his property and set up a sanctuary for them. The Penguin Place also has little blue penguin boxes that were in use when we went, and it offers rehabilitation for injured penguins of all sorts so they can go back into the wild and survive. (During our visit, there was a Fiordland Crested Penguin and two junior yellow-eyed penguins.)
Yellow-eyed penguins are the rarest species to find in New Zealand because they are private birds. They will call out when arriving on the beach, and when the other penguins respond, the new arrival knows where not to build the nest. Their primary food source is becoming more difficult to find. It used to be that they could dive to 50 meters and find enough to eat. Now, they have to dive three times as far to find the same amount of food. This can lead to malnutrition in adults and their chicks as the adults expend more energy and aren’t able to store as many calories. If you want to help yellow-eyed penguins, you can donate to the Penguin Place here. We’ll also donate $1 for every Flat Friend adopted on etsy.