Allans Beach, Otago Peninsula

What to do when so much travel and events are being limited due to the Covid-19 virus? Dunedin has a wide variety of beaches within half an hour of anywhere in the city, and also has established a reputation for wildlife.

Yesterday I decided to go to one of the beaches, Allans Beach on the Pacific Ocean side of the Otago Peninsula. It is usually relatively uncluttered, and often has sea lions lying on the sand.

The peninsula is a short drive from the city, with small settlements along the harbour side, with a number of good eating options. So (a very good) lunch first, this time in Macandrew Bay – other places to eat are Glenfalloch, Portobello (multiple) and Taiaroa head (at the albatross centre).

Turning across the peninsula at Portobello aafter a short drive you get to the large tidal Hoopers Inlet. At low tide there were a lot of birds, waders, ducks and black swans in abundance.

About 30 km from home is the Allans beach car park – it was fuller than usual but still space available.

It’s a short (5 minute) walk across a paddock and through dunes to the beach, and it was not exactly crowded, but by Dunedin standards it was busy, with people in all directions. Easy to keep at virus distance.

There were two New Zealand sea lions lazing on the beach right at the entrance, but with the tide out there was plenty of space to walk around them.

Heading left it’s about a couple of hundred meters to the rock scattered eastern end of the beach, only accessible at low tide.

Allans Beach at low tide looking east

There was a seal lying on a pile of seaweed, and another seal on the rocks at the end of the beach, keeping an eye on spectators.

Sea lions are a lot larger than seals and like sleeping in the beach, often flicking sand over themselves. Seals have pointer noses, more prominent whiskers and mostly prefer basking on rocks but are sometimes on the sand. Numbers of both are gradually re-establishing and increasing around the peninsula over the last thirty years, having been virtually wiped out by sealers in the early days of European settlement.

There can also be yellow eyed penguins at Allans Beach but you usually only see them early when they head out to sea and late in the day when they return. Once I have seen one standing on the beach during the day moulting.

Turning west it’s nearly 2 km to the other end of the beach, but well worth the walk.

Allans Beach at low tide looking west

Dotted along the beach were a number of other sea lions. There were more around the corner as the sand extends into the inlet. There were about twelve in total, but there were also tracks into the sand dunes where they often go for some privacy.

Sea lions are a common sight on Allans beach

Once on the nearby Victory Beach I needed a pea and headed into the tussocks, and nearly walked right into a sea lion. If you leave them some space they are not usually bothered by people, but I wouldn’t want to get too close, or surprise one.

At at western end at low tide the channel from the inlet is narrow, but too deep and too much current to go into. On the far sandy rock strewn bank there were two seals jousting with each other.

Allans Beach isn’t much of a bird beach (Long Beach on the mainland is one of the best for birds, it’s near a breeding colony).

At the outlet end of the beach at low tide there is a wide expanse of hard sand with many current and wave sculpted pools. Kids love this as the water is warmer than the ocean and they can choose size and depth (up to half a metre or so). There were a bunch of happy kids there yesterday

Tidal pools on Allans Beach

There were more surfers than usual but less surf than usual. One of the features of Allans Beach is the wild surf.

The walk back along the beach was just as enjoyable, spotting and dodging sea lines along the way.

Heading home I usually take the alternate route (the high road), which goes further round the inlet (many more birds wading and diving) and more pukekos along the road than I have seen before.

The road then climbs up and along the spine of the peninsula, past the Larnach Castle turnoff (the castle isn’t visible from the road. There are great views south and seaward, and nearer the city north over the harbour. It’s a narrow road with a bit of traffic, with not many places to stop so you need to be wary of sightseers and dawdlers.

Then it’s back to the city and then home. It was a half day well spent.

I often ‘get away from it’, and there are plenty of options (last weekend I spend a day heading north to Moeraki with another big beach, the famous boulders, fishing village with good food options, and one of my favourite stops, the lighthouse with a growing number of seals sleeping and playing and often yellow eyed penguins (last week there were, unusually, four penguins hanging around during the afternoon).

With all the virus stuff happening over the next month or two getting out into the fresh air away from crowds will be a good option.

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8 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  16th March 2020

    Great pics. Great vibe. Great negative ions. Quintessential NZ at its best.

    Reply
  2. artcroft

     /  16th March 2020

    I recommend Rangitoto island for day excursions. I recently walked across the Island for a swim at Boulder Bay which is an old boat disposal site from early last century. You can still swim around the old wrecks and the water is clear, warm and pleasant. Its amazing to see the lava flows frozen into place 600 years after they erupted and easy to imagine what it must have looked like when the walls of rock flowed to the sea. Also saw a saddleback foraging on my way back. Rangitoto is a real gem just 30 mins from downtown AK.

    Reply
  3. Conspiratoor

     /  16th March 2020

    You will know where this one is PG. Highest road in the country.

    Reply
  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  16th March 2020

    I once knew a man who was walking down the street in Island Bay and met a little blue penguin walking towards him. How enviable.

    We used to go and look at the seals near there. It was a mystery when someone sealnapped one or tried to; the stink would knock anyone who was near them down. No need to warn people not to go too close, the smell would deter most people. The seals need to be told/To use Palmolive Gold.

    Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  16th March 2020

    My socisl distancing effort today was finding a way to try to make an ultrasound water level monitor work reliably in a warm water tank. The gizmos are fairly cheap and I set one up and it worked perfectly for a couple of days and then died. I pulled it out and opened it up and found condensation inside. I contacted the manufacturer for advice and got told two complete lies a) the water was getting in via the battery hatch and b) it couldn’t be fixed by drying it out and would have to be replaced.
    First I noted the battery hatch has a waterproof gasket and I could see a wet patch on the sensor cover and tiny droplets in the transducer outlets. So I attacked it with hair dryer, the oven and finally the hot water cupboard in a reused single-use plastic bag with a dessicant. Sure enough after a couple of days it was working perfectly again.

    So how to protect it? On the internet someone claimed cling wrap works. It doesn’t – it blocks the signal. So does plastic bag film. Others say silicone spray works but I can’t see how it would protect the small holes without blocking them. The last option was plastic pot scrubbers. I tried Goldilocks and the sensor works fine through it.

    So I pulled the sensor up above the tank with the Goldilocks screwed in place beneath it and a cut off milk container with air vents over the top to keep rain out. The theory is condensation gets trapped on the Goldilocks and blown away by the wind and draughts above the tank. Now let’s see if it works. It’s raining solidly now so tomorrow will be the first test to see if it’s still going.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  17th March 2020

      So far so good. Showing another 200mm pumped up to the tank during the night and still measuring. Tank temp 34 deg on top so plenty of water vapour no doubt.

      Reply
  1. Allans Beach, Otago Peninsula — Your NZ – uwerolandgross

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