One gorgeous early spring afternoon (September 2 to be exact) I had the pleasure of going to Sandfly Bay with Liisa, Gavin, Amy, and Becky, Amy's sister, who was visiting for a little while. Liisa drove, and it was sunny with gorgeous views over the harbour nearly the whole way. We passed over a long, bumpy, unsealed (aka unpaved) road and I realised why the bus driver was right about walking there from Portobello a while ago: it would have been nearly impossible, or at least very unpleasant. The first thing you encounter at Sandfly Bay is a fence, because you have to walk through sheep pastures to get to the beach. The sheep clearly have a good view:
There is also a sign warning you that it's not a good idea to collect shellfish there. I wonder what that means for the sea lions?
Anyway, you go down a bit of a hill to a viewing platform. Here's a taste of the view that will greet you:
A little further downhill takes you to another gate. On the way to that gate we saw some lambs, which I eagerly took tons of pictures of.
Just after the gate you descend a steep sand dune to the beach. It was great fun running down, as you can tell in this photo.
The beach is breathtaking, and on this day was full of sea lions. Perhaps you have a perception of sea lions as adorable and cuddly. So did I, until I came into close proximity with them. They are huge. Intimidatingly so. And, as I learned from a sign at the top of the hill, they are very territorial and not afraid of humans. So if they feel you are encroaching upon their territory, they might attack you. Therefore, none of us were particularly keen on walking around and through these living land mines.
However, we found a DOC guy who offered to show us through the sea lions (we had to get to the end of the beach to see penguins) and assured us that it was quite safe. Here are some shots that will give you a sense of the size and proximity of the sea lions.
As you can also see, most of them were sleeping. We made it through without incident, and got to the penguin viewing hide. It wasn't long before the DOC guy pointed out penguins atop the hill to the left:
We waited a bit longer, and finally a penguin (these are yellow-eyed penguins, or hoiho) came onto the beach.
High tide was coming in and the sun was setting, so we made our way back down the beach.
Along the way we spotted 3 young sea lions playing in the waves:
Finally, we reached the far end of the beach and the colours were truly amazing.
It was a great afternoon.
Other beautiful sights: