Unlike Kaj who is here for the penguins, I am here to hunt seals. Not in a Canadian club baby seals kind of way, but to photograph them. We’ve had great success finding the New Zealand fur seal, but the elephant seal has proven elusive.
First attempt at seals was the appropriately named Shag Point, just north of Dunedin. It’s such an insignificant spot on the map that Wikipedia doesn’t yet have a listing for it! We saw 32 fur seals here, and we were quite chuffed at our first spotting attempt.
The seals seem like quite a lazy breed, and I could easily see why they might have once been almost hunted to extinction. They just lie about on the rocks soaking up the suns rays, completely undisturbed by our gawking and photographing. The seal pups have a lot more life though, and they’re always jumping and frolicking about on the rocks, in and out of the water, and often seem to annoy their mum with their incessant playfulness.
New Zealand strongly protect their seals, so we couldn’t get too close, but sometimes they hop close to you, which is quite a treat for a wildlife-loving photographer! Here’s a couple of lovely pics we took of the seals up close.
We have now also seen seals at three other locations, but the sightings weren’t near as good as the first one at Shag Point. There were also loads of the gorgeous red footed seagulls at Shag Point, and after we went and had fish for lunch I saved my leftover fish to feed to the gulls. Despite trying really hard I was unable to hand feed them, but they certainly thought about taking it from my hand, as you can see from the pic below. It was a really windy day, and the gulls were such eloquent gliders.
Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of the single elephant seal we believe we saw off in the far distance in Porpoise Bay. There’s a strong chance it could actually have been a sea lion. He was more than 1km away and seemed to be terrorising a family, or vice versa. By the time we reached the beach he had started swimming away. We hope to have better luck over the next few days in Fiordland.