The late decision to go down to Dunedin on Wednesday 26th was a good one as we had somehow overlooked what the Otago Peninsula has to offer. The landscape became drier and more barren as we drove south east, stopping for lunch at Alexandra, reputedly the driest town in South Island, but had a good second hand bookshop run by a Canadian! We arrived eventually at a Kiwi site in Dunedin for an overnight stop before driving next morning along steep windy roads to the beautiful Otago Peninsula .First destination was the Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head, which looks after the only mainland breeding colony of this bird and currently has 30 breeding pairs. From the hide we could see 4 birds sitting on nests and a large colony of Stewart Island and Spotted Shags, but we didn't see a flying Albatross until later that day. From there we drove to Allans Beach where the birdlife was good, and included a couple of Yellow-eyed Penguins. This was also the place to see Hookers Sea Lions and sure enough there was one large chap sleeping on the beach, and another one with a female further up the beach. He seemed rather keen to defend his young lady and chased us off the beach. An invigorating walk down to and back up the dunes at Sandfly Bay (fortunately with no sandflies) was followed by dinner at 1908 in Portabello before returning to Taiaroa Head where Blue Penguins come in at Pilots Beach to return to their nests. While waiting for the penguins, several Royal Albatrosses returned to and took off from the nest sites, gliding in on the wind, their magnificent 9 feet wingspan dwarfing any other birds. The cute Blue Penguins, in contrast, started to waddle ashore about 9.30pm and make their way up to the 300 or so nest sites on the headland, trudging determinedly past human onlookers. We overnighted at a nice site in Portabello then J&J did another beach walk with yellow-eyed penguins while C&M got a flavour of the city of Dunedin, the "Edinburgh of the South"and NZ's most beautiful city of 2008, before we moved north towardsMt Cook.