Curio Bay, petrified forest and playground of penguins

We found this bay by accident as we were exploring around the Catlins region of the South Island of New Zealand last December. Finding a petrified forest was a high of excitement for the day, as we carefully scrambled around the fossils. These fossils are actually part of a cliff/ sea shelf. At low tide, the sea recedes and exposes the fossils for a short period before coming back in. Earlier in the 20th Century, people used to hack of chunks of rock and keep them as souvenirs. Nowadays, there’s a bit more signage, and even a yellow boundary rope laid out. Visitors are asked politely not to cross the rope and abstain from taking fossils home!

Petrified forest, uncovered by the tide.
Petrified forest, uncovered by the tide. You can see the trunks lying around.
Close up of the tree fern.
Close up of the tree fern.

We had been discussing Yellow Eyed Penguins shortly before. Generally they are seen entering and leaving the seas at dawn and dusk. They are actually quite rare, and are on the endangered species list. There are only 5 known breeding areas for them, the Catlins area being the largest. Unlike other well known penguin species, the Yellow Eyed Penguin uses a burrow as a nest and tend to pair up and ignore everybody else (Bit like humans really.) So when this one popped up and started strolling along the rocks, we both stood absolutely still. We needn’t have worried. They took over 10 minutes to go from sea to scrub, often gazing in our direction and generally acting as if they owned the place. (Which was fair enough, given that they lived there…) Even today, our memory of this encounter brings a smile to us. We hope you enjoy too.

Suddenly, out pops a penguin.
Suddenly, out pops a penguin.
They grow up to 60-75cms, Thats big!
They grow up to 60-75cms, Thats big!
It displayed no signs of being afraid of us.
It displayed no signs of being afraid of us.
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Note the yellow band around its eyes.
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Walking sedately over fossilised trees. The Yellow eyed penguin is the oldest species of penguin known. Did its ancestors play among the trees?
Over the last few fossil trees...
Over the last few fossil trees…
And off into the undergrowth to its burrow.
And off into the undergrowth to its burrow.
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