Three reasons to Celebrate World Penguin Day!

1.  Penguins always bring a smile to your face.

Admit it. There is no staying a grumpy-pants when you click through a slide deck of penguin photos.

Read more about Fiordland Penguins and the
Read more about Fiordland Penguins and other penguin adventures by clicking the Penguin category on this blog.

2.  Their clumsiness and vulnerability on land entertains and creates an emotional bond with us.

We laugh at what seems like their slapstick pratfalls on the ice, but we also have empathy as who among us has not literally fallen flat on our face. We recognize the penguins incredible commitment to raising their young, sometimes in nasty conditions, and we like to think we are as committed to our own children.

Even in captivity, the penguin can charm!
Even in captivity, the penguin can charm!

3. Penguins can withstand the harshest weather; raise chicks on ice; and yet the 18 species are all at risk because of us.

Whether it is climate change, depletion of food from overfishing and human pollution, loss of habitat from human development, and other causes, we need to care for penguins as they are the proverbial canary of Antarctica.

BONUS!

Test your penguin knowledge with this quiz from the Pew Charitable Trust. Then sign the petition (on same web page) to encourage the US State Department to reach and sign agreements to protect penguins in the Ross Sea and Antarctica.

Share why you love penguins!

Designing the Perfect New Zealand Adventure, Part I Penguins

These plywood penguins are helpful educational tools, but I want to see real penguins in the wild!

My adult kids and I will be celebrating my birthday and Thanksgiving in St Heliers, Auckland, New Zealand. I am so excited to share my favorite places in Auckland with them and tackling some adventures such as climbing Rangitoto. We will make a traditional American groaning feast for my Kiwi friends and then we will pursue our own adventures.

Every trip begins with booking tickets on Air New Zealand. For $50 one of their helpful advisors will help make more complicated reservations over the phone. Sometimes there is a savings if you are traveling to several places within New Zealand during your stay. This trip I made all of my reservations on line. Their easy to use site allows me to book my flight, pick my seat and let them know if I have special dietary requirements or need to bring an extra bag.

With my bookends of arrivals and departures (and notice that you lose a day on the way over from USA and live your last day twice on the way back), I begin to fill in the middle points. If I have confirmed dates in certain places I typically log on to Booking.com and make my hotel reservations, Kayak.com for auto reservations and then Trip Advisor for ideas for things to do and for reviews of hotels if I am undecided on Booking.com.

I am going to South Island for a combination of penguin viewing and cycling.  Penguin viewing was my highest priority: I want to see both Fiordland penguins and yellow eyed penguins. And I want to visit Stewart Island (mainly for kiwi birds).  My challenge was figuring out the best places to see these and then create an itinerary that is reasonable and fulfilling.

New Zealand Penguins website is a life saver.  It lists several options for each type of penguin that I want to view.  I decided to visit Lake Moeraki in South Westland, Stewart Island in Southland, and Dunedin in Otago for my three penguin stops. I created a matrix for Dunedin since there are so many options. I have begun searching the various penguin guide websites and emailing for more details. I will soon have my tickets or reservations.

The complicating factor is the cycling. I really would like to cycle the Otago Central Rail Trail from Queenstown to Dunedin (the last bit by train). I had to establish the timeframe for that before I could solidify my penguin plans. And I had to make some adjustments to my plans. Originally I thought I’d drive from Queenstown to Lake Moeraki to Invercargill to Dunedin, but the cycling trips begin in Queenstown. Some quick changes to my itinerary and voila! I am able to do everything I want to do.

It is a very full schedule, and not everyone would find four days of cycling the “relaxing” bit. I am super charged about it.