Moeraki, New Zealand Day 1

I have picked up my campervan and I am on the road south to Moeraki New Zealand. My first drive should take about a 4 hours. I make a couple stops along the way: one to a farmers market and another to a grocery store to stock up on some goods I need for the next couple weeks. The plan is to self-cater many of my meals so I need to stock up on the basics as well as things such as detergent, and all purpose cleaner. The van I have rented does not have a refrigerator but has a chill box. I later find this to be very inconvenient as it is only really for keeping cold things cold, and only while the van is running. A few days later I regret not paying more to rent a van that is solar powered when I have to throw out spoiled food after a outing or two. For the first few days though everything works out well. I am able to store perishables in the kitchen of the holiday park and the heat isn’t too bad so things left out don’t spoil as quickly.

The GPS helps get me to my first holiday park (holiday parks are essentially camp grounds in Australia and New Zealand). To get to my destination, Moeraki Village Holiday Park, I have to drive down narrow rocky roads and essentially driving through dirt in some areas. The car handles the bumpy roads fine but awkwardly until I get right to the entrance to the holiday park. Somehow I take a curve into the park too quickly and at the same time hit a bump which causes the van to lift off the ground. Things that aren’t secured go flying all over the back. One of the provided porcelain bowls has cracked in half. I have my first casualty and I haven’t even had the van for a full day yet. It seems kind of stupid that the plates and bowls are not better secured on the shelf; better yet plastic plates should have been provided instead. I learn a lesson that day to keep my things better secured.

Narrow, bumpy road to the holiday park
first casualty

I check into the holiday park I get my assigned spot for the next two nights. My spot is powered but my van is not set up to take advantage of it. Also regret not paying more for a powered van. It would come in handy when I want to charge things.

At the park office I note the viewing times for both the famous boulders and viewing of rare yellow-eyed penguins.

The goal today is to view Yellow-Eyed Penguins, the rarest penguins in the world. I am heading to Katiki Point Lighthouse this afternoon to try to get a glimpse of them. There are about 30 of them nesting here.

I secure my van and drive to the lighthouse. GPS is not giving me the best directions so I am having a hard time finding the lighthouse. I end up backtracking and and takes me much longer than I expect to get there. I fear I have missed the march of the penguins. Good thing I’ll have another chance tomorrow.

I find the lighthouse and park. The wind is strong, I have hard time opening and closing the doors of my van. I grab my camera and follow the path to the observation area.

I start to look down at the shore and I see Fur Seals.

I walk further out on to the ledge and pass some fur seals resting in the sun. I try to keep my distance.

I walk around the peninsula glimpsing down trying to find penguins but I am unsuccessful.

I am not paying close attention to my surroundings. I hear a grunt. I turn to find a fur seal is dangerously close. It grunts more at me then comes charging; it hops up and down quickly and has a snide yet determined look on its face. I am shocked and scared. I start shouting and running off. Luckily the animal gives up. It is a stupid thing on my part, I should have been more careful. Fortunately no one else is close enough to see my embarrassment.

The cheeky seals are laughing at me. (I am using my telephoto lens now!)

I head to another, safer, area where I get a good view of nesting birds.

I head to another area and notice a some families watching below, some with tripods. This must be the spot. I spot one isolated penguin in the distance. For the protection of the animals we are unable to get very close. Luckily I traveled many months with my heavy telephoto lens just for this moment.

Finally a couple of his friends show up.

We watch them waddle away to their nests further away from our view. I am confused that I only see three; maybe I missed more of them earlier? I decide to come back tomorrow to try again.

I head back to the campsite to settle in for the night. This is my first night van camping. I couldn’t have picked a more beautiful evening.

View from the campsite
This will be my dinner setup for most nights for the next couple weeks

I make my bed and use the facilities at the campsite to clean up for the evening. Note: I do have running water and a camper toilet in my van. I don’t really plan on using either one because I don’t want to have to deal with the clean up that is needed if I use those things. I really don’t plan on freedom camping this trip so I shouldn’t need water and toilet.

Bed is made!

It is a nice night and the bugs are not bad so I’ll able to leave the windows open until I close up for the night.

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