Spear Fishing and Blue Penguin Spotting in Timaru

Today, we have nothing planned. Whaaaaaat?! Yes, that’s right, we are going with the flow

“But wait a minute, guys, what happened to your 365 days doing 365 activities?” we hear you cry at your screen right now. Well, New Zealand is one of those countries where it’s easy to find yourself on little adventures, even when you’re not looking for them. For example…

Our camper gets some pampering

We start off the day thinking that washing the campervan (or at least as far up the sides as we can reach) is going to be the highlight of the day. It’s something we’ve been dying to do for ages. Going down so many gravel roads, getting stuck in the mud, having sandflies splat on the bumper… it all starts to look pretty rancid after 203 days on the road. Thanks to the hose at Fairlie Holiday Park, the Backpacker Guide-mobile is looking rather flash!

Onwards to Timaru!

After some lunch and a bit of bird-spotting in the holiday park, including a whole group of tiny quail chicks running after their dad, we hit the road to our next Canterbury destination, the city of Timaru!

It’s a drive through pastoral land holding some animals a little different from the common sheep and dairy farms of New Zealand – both of which we are totally experts in by the way. Just check out the evidence here, here and here. We almost have to force ourselves to keep our eyes on the road when we see deer running after each other in fields, and pigs lazying in their pigsty.

We drive through small towns of Cave and Pleasant Point, until we leave the farmlands and enter the coastal city of Timaru – you know, those places with traffic lights and people!

 

Not a penguin, but a quail chick that was too cute to not take a photo of Not a penguin, but a quail chick that was too cute to not take a photo of
Essential pitstop at the shoe tree Essential pitstop at the shoe tree
See ya later, Greg! See ya later, Greg!
Catching fish the hardcore way Catching fish the hardcore way

A random spear fishing trip

We park up our fresh and shiny camper and check-in at the 1873 Wanderer Backpackers, meeting Greg and his WWOOFer, Patrick. It turns out that Greg is an active sort of guy who, not only runs free blue penguin tours in Timaru, but is keen to show us what he loves about the district. Greg is taking us spear fishing!

Hunting and fishing is huge in New Zealand. Locals exchanging the food they’ve sourced from fishing trips and hunting expeditions is something we’ve seen all over Southland, Otago and apparently now, South Canterbury. We’re always leaving our time spent with Kiwis with a fridge full of meat and fish. Although we have dabbled in blue cod fishing and salmon fishing so far on this epic road trip around New Zealand, we have not seen anyone doing spear fishing.

A shoe tree

With a boot (or trunk to you Americans) with Greg and Patrick’s wetsuits, spears and various other gear, we hit the road to Greg’s “secret spot”. All we can say is we pass through Temuka because we have a quick stop at the Shoe Tree of Temuka – a tree with heaps of shoes nailed into it, including stilettos, jandals with message written on them, and a horse shoe.

Watching blue penguin chicks go about their business

Catching dinner in the current

We follow a gravel road to the end beside where a river mouth meets the sea. Fine pebbles constantly fall alongside the river due to the strong current pushing the river into the sea. Is Greg seriously going to spear fish in that?!

Without the correct gear or the knowledge to swim in the strong current, we decide to give the spear fishing a miss (not that it was really an option). But watching Greg do his thing, catching flounder like he’s in an episode of Survivor, is pretty entertaining. His fins will disappear into the water and he’ll end up several metres downstream. Three times, he comes up to the surface with a flounder on his spear, but he considers this a bad session of spear fishing. Hey, we’re not complaining because it looks like we have dinner for tonight!

From fishing to little blue penguins

Just like little blue penguins, we return from fishing in the day back to our home for the evening. Speaking of little blue penguins, Greg just happens to be running a free penguin tour down at Caroline Bay tonight. (Did you like our smooth transition there? It was pretty terrible, wasn’t it?)

Greg is overly keen for the little blue penguins tonight! Greg is overly keen for the little blue penguins tonight!
Keeping an eye out for the blue penguins Keeping an eye out for the blue penguins
The lonely waddler The lonely waddler

Penguin puppet

Us along with three German backpackers meet Greg in the kitchen of the 1873 Wanderer Backpackers at 9.30pm where Greg is wearing a high-vis vest and holding a little blue penguin puppet, which he seems extremely proud of! We follow Greg and the little blue penguin (who doesn’t have a name) through the gardens of Caroline Bay all the way to the waterfront. Road signs and fenced off areas surrounding the rocky edges of the beach show that we are in little blue penguin territory now!

If you have been following any of this blog, you’ll see that we have seen rafts of little blue penguins swim onto the shores of the Otago Peninsula and Oamaru. However, not only is this a free-to-watch blue penguin experience in Timaru, but, unlike at the Otago Peninsula and Oamaru, you can watch the penguins interacting around their burrows.

What really goes on at the little blue penguin burrows

That being said, we still need to avoid disturbing them by not shining lights at them, using flash photography, and standing too close to them. All in all, don’t be a d*ck to the penguins!

We watch as the world’s smallest species of penguin waddle across the beach two or three at a time. It’s the cutest thing, watching their tiny bodies waddle quickly over the open sandy areas. Once under the shelter of the rock, they take the time to clean their feathers, scream at each other, gatecrash on other penguin couples’ burrows, and court one another in their little penguin ways. We even get a close look at a mother and father feeding their chicks. The awesome thing is that all this action occurs right before us, meaning they felt safe enough to just be themselves – a feeling we’re all looking for, right? #DeepThoughts.

On that note, we’ll leave you wishing you were a penguin for the day. Join us tomorrow, where we are going to be white water rafting on the Rangitata River! See you then!

Laura and Robin

spot the tiny penguin parade!
spot the tiny penguin parade! Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Want more?

Have you read the yesterday’s post about getting a real Kiwi experience on Morelea Farm? How about these articles:

Until tomorrow’s blog post, check us out on the HerePin app to meet other travellers in your area. We also post travel tips for New Zealand on Facebook, as well as our adventure on Instagram. Join the Facebook Group to find people to travel with, ask us questions and buy/sell.

See you tomorrow!

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Comments
  1. This practise is now heavily frowned upon in prominent spearfishing nations for promoting unsustainable methods and encouraging taking more fish than is needed.

    Comment avatar kurdistantv
    15/09/2017 at 6:02 am
    1. Thanks for letting us know, we were not aware of that fact 🙂

      Comment avatar Robin
      16/09/2017 at 3:32 pm
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