Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu
View of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Zone Conference, Albatross & Penguins


We had some great experiences last week. We attended our first Zone Conference in the town of Gore, about 100 miles south of Dunedin. 

Gore Meetinghouse - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
We shared the experience with three other senior missionary couples and about twenty full-time Elder & Sister missionaries. It was inspiring to hear four of the young missionaries share their testimonies as they prepare for their missions to end in the next few weeks. You can feel of their love of the Gospel and their love for our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

On the way to Gore we passed through the town of Clinton. You can tell by this roadway sign that some people in New Zealand have a great sense of humor.

Our Mission President, Roger Hudson, was in attendance also. He is a very positive leader who brings out the best in those "called to serve". It was nice to meet him. Sister Hudson was back in Texas attending to their daughter and newborn grandchild. The baby was born with a heart defect and has now undergone successful open-heart surgery. President Hudson reported that mother and baby were both doing well. We all know that things can happen while we are so far away from home. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hudson family.


Saturday afternoon we went on another local adventure. We had already been out to the Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Point a few weeks ago, but this time we returned and went on the Albatross and Blue Penguin tours. 

Among the wildlife we saw on our adventure were these beautiful black swans.

Taiaroa Point is at the entrance to Otago Harbor. The darker color water shows the channel the cruise ships and cargo ships use to enter. They can only make it about halfway to Dunedin before the harbor gets too shallow to proceed. They offload at the shipping facility at Port Chalmers.

The lighthouse at the entrance to Otago Harbor.

We learned all about the life of a young Albatross. When they are about eight months old they take their first flight. What is really interesting is when they take that first flight, they are gone for five years..... yes, five years. They fly all around the Southern Hemisphere and never touch land until they return to Taiaroa Point. You can read more about them at

When taking pictures in this area you get photo-bombed by other birds all the time.
New chicks hatch in January - February and depart in September. Some of the young Albatross have already begun their journey, others will be here for a few weeks more.
The Albatross test its wings as part of the learning process.
Each Albatross wing has two strong joints that allow it to easily fold away.
A full-grown Albatross has a wingspan of over nine feet. Truly amazing birds!


Some of the observation areas we watched the albatross from were in an old military compound, Fort Taiaroa, build into Taiaroa Point. 

Looking north along eastern coast of New Zealand South Island from Taiaroa Point.

The compound has an underground tunnel system supporting their Armstrong Disappearing Gun. Built in 1889, it was to prevent invasion from the Russians….. who actually never showed up to invade. The gun would be raised up and fired. The recoil would send it back underground where it would be hidden from those it fired upon while it reloaded. The included photos show the restored gun in its original bunker.

Schematic of tunnel system.
Information about the Armstrong Disappearing Gun.
Entrance into the tunnel system.
Side-view of the completely restored Armstrong Disappearing Gun.
Sure glad we didn't need to be down here when they fired this puppy!
Debbie would make a great tour guide.


Saturday evening, after dusk, we went on the Blue Penguin tour. We went down to the beach where the Centre has a platform built just above the rocks at the shoreline. Sure enough, we didn’t wait long and a small group of penguins came in. 

The first group of Blue Penguins pause at the rocks before starting the climb. The little straggler was limping along behind the main group..... he eventually made it to the top.
Here they come up the rocks!!
When they get up to the platform we were standing on they scatter in all directions to find their nests.
It was fun to watch their shadows as they pass by.
Another group of Blue Penguins approach the rocks.

They scurried across the beach and hopped up through the rocks to get to the vegetation where they nest for the night. This went on for about an hour. There were flood lights shining underneath the deck so we could see the penguins. They restrict flash photography so we had to make do with the available lighting for photo taking. Debbie was so excited to finally see some penguins….. magical.

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