Gorgeous Beach Cove, Lotsa Wind, 6pm Penguins
NZ Gps: 45° 53' 33.0432" S 170° 38' 14.9244" E
Sandfly Bay is a force of nature! Arrive during a south wind and you’ll immediately understand the name “Sandfly” — the lava cliffs bookending the beach squeeze the winds into a sand-flying gale. Whoa, there may be more sand in the air than on the beach! No actual sandfly would dare to live here. On a calm day the contoured and swirlystriped dunes are a visual wonderland, but a “sand-flying” windy day is the most impressive as the swirling sand races up the dune channels. If it’s ultra-windy and the sand is blasting your face off, simply walk nearer to the waterline to escape the beast.
At the far north end of the beach there’s a Yellow-eyed penguin “Hide” for viewing the daily late-afternoon penguin march up the beach. There are enough penguins at this popular beach to warrant a volunteer who’ll instruct newbie penguin-watchers on proper pengy-protocol.
Occasionally there are Sea lions around to liven up the penguin-waiting. One time in 2010 a Sea lion had clambered up to the Hide and was sleeping in front of the door—he seemed kind of friendly in a scary sort of way as he “guarded” the hide. For penguin viewing 6pm (ish) is your best bet…and bring your own binoculars. Penguins nest all along the beach, so you may see one come ashore as you walk to the Hide (sit down and hold still). Amazingly, some penguins make an arduous hop-walk to the top of the hill north of the Hide—look for their faint path up the slope!