The next exercise was to write a compelling beginning to a story. My effort centred on the trip Juliet and I made to Australia and New Zealand in 2016.
The trip “Down Under” centred on a 16 night cruise from Sydney to Auckland. We are now in Akaroa on New Zealand’s South Island.
“The penguins are moulting at this time of year,” Shireen our guide informs us. She leads us slowly along the path towards the nesting boxes that are scattered around the hillside. We are on a guided tour with a family run business, Pohatu Penguins, on their farm on Bank’s Peninsula on New Zealand’s South Island. Shireen and her family monitor the largest Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand. They can be found at this time of year, January – February, in burrows they have dug out or in man made nesting boxes.
The sea is some way off in the distance which surprises us. Evidently some of the nests we are walking past are up to 700m from the sea and surprisingly 200m up a slope. “When they are not moulting,” Shireen continues “they make the journey to the sea each evening to feed and return around dawn”.
There are characters among the penguins. One was born blind with a deformed flipper so when it has its daily swim it goes around in circles. These are wild penguins and the family see themselves as merely temporary guardians so the likelihood is that this little fellow will sadly have to be put down as it will not survive on its own.
“One very common comment from travellers is, although they have travelled most of the world, Akaroa and Bank’s Peninsula is either the most beautiful or one of the most beautiful destinations they have ever visited.”1
1 Shireen Helps – The Natural Beauty of Bank’s Peninsula – article on website https://www.newzealand.com/nieuw-zeeland/article/the-natural-beauty-of-banks-peninsula/?&cid=p:sem:UK:FY19:Pure:Google:UK_G_S_DSA_Travel_to_NZ_Canterbury:txt:&kwid=Canterbury&gclid=Cj0KCQiAheXiBRD-ARIsAODSpWOW5FsbBUFobTwZjo4ADp9JZI7WcbJVAmHKZAPQ0DZ8uDGithYUy_gaAou4EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds