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Are the Penguins Worth It?

What penguins am I referring to?

The awesome little blue ones (the smallest species of penguins in the world) that you can find in a few different locations on the South Island of New Zealand (and Southern Australia). So, is it worth it to take a road trip detour?

Why yes, yes it is.

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If you have a soft spot in your heart for penguins (or obsession, like me), then you might find a detour to visit one of the spots where you can witness hundreds of them waddling ashore as the sun sets behind them well worth the trip.

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If you don’t have a soft spot in your heart for little penguins, then you may not be human? (just kidding!) But really, how can you not think these little ones are adorable?

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These little guys reside on the Otago Peninsula – just about a 30 minute drive from Dunedin, which also happens to have the most photographed building in all of New Zealand:

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In order to see the penguins and satisfy my obsession, we went to the Royal Albatross Centre in the evening after a pretty delicious dinner at Velvet Burger in Dunedin. If you are interested, there are more than just the penguins to see. They also have the only mainland breeding colony of the Royal Albatross (a large sea bird) and interesting historical and educational exhibits. Plus, the beauty of the peninsula is not so tough on the eyes.

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My favorite part about the center is how close you can get to the penguins. They literally waddle right by you to get to their nests. Some of them even waddle around under the platform, and if you lie down you can get inches away from them (resist the temptation to touch them though). It took all of my willpower not to take one home…

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Not to mention, while the little ones are making their way to their nests, the sun is setting and creating an incredibly beautiful backdrop.

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We debated for quite awhile if we should take the time to drive to Dunedin, but in the end, I thought it was well worth the detour. We had an amazing time and seeing the penguins turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip for us.

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Dunedin itself looks is modeled off of Scottish towns and is also home to NZ’s Speight’s brewery.

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Not to mention, we stayed in a cozy hostel in Dunedin called Hogwartz, complete with room 9 3/4, reading loft, and awesome outdoor space.

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Clearly, Dunedin and the penguins brought my childlike enthusiasm to an entirely different level…

10 Tips to Improve your Trip to the Milford Sound

Interested in visiting the Milford Sound while in New Zealand? Here are some facts and tips for making your visit to the Milford sound the best it can be.

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The Best Kept Secret of the Routeburn Track?

If you’re planning or have planned a trip to the South Island of New Zealand, you may know that the Routeburn Track is arguably the most popular and best of the Great Walks. Some may regard the most popular sites as tourist traps or steer clear of them to get the most “authentic” experience when visiting another country. Generally, I agree with this, and like to seek out the road less traveled or find that hole in the wall local shop/restaurant/bar. However, in my opinion, this would be a mistake when it comes to the Routeburn Track in New Zealand.

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Over the Hills, Through the mountains, To Queenstown we go!

Our mission for the day began early this morning in a race against the rising sun.

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We had read about a lake called Lake Mathieson (a.ka. Mirror Lake) where you can see a beautiful reflection of Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman in the lake. This spot is definitely well known and coveted amongst photographers, as the potential for stunning, one-of-a-kind photos is high, pending weather conditions, of course. Looking forward to capturing a perfect picture, we set out early, albeit not quite early enough. Really, the magical time is before sunrise, but we didn’t wake up in time to make that. We hit the photograph areas just as the sun was coming over the mountain.

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Pancake Rocks!

Our last day in the Motueka region was spent visiting a local winery (check out my post on wine in NZ for more on that), and a local delicious brewery called the Hop Federation.

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I highly recommend a stop here! Also, Nelson is the craft brewing capital of New Zealand, so there are plenty of good beer tasting options around too.

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Abel Tasman National Park Trek

The Abel Tasman National Park is located on the Northwest part of the South Island.

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The closest town is Motueka, and a larger nearby city is Nelson. There are a number of ways to explore the park, from day trips to week long excursions. One of the most popular ways of exploring the area is by Kayak.

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New Zealand Wine Trail

Hands down, some of the most enjoyable days we spent in New Zealand included visiting wineries in different regions on the North and South Islands. We sought out many smaller, family run, and often organic vineyards to visit in the various wine regions. The wines and the people running the wineries were amazing and created a wonderful tasting experience.

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