New Zealand’s Seal Colony Makes for an Intriguing Attraction

Pacific - Editor - 19 February 2009

New Zealand’s Seal Colony Makes for an Intriguing Attraction

Seals are playful, adorable creatures that tend to worm their way into the heart of any animal lover. However, not many people know much about the sort of lives these creatures lead. At Cape Foulwind in New Zealand’s Tauranga Bay, you can watch the delightful daily activities of New Zealand fur seals.

Cape Foulwind is a home to a very active seal colony. Visitors can arrive via car and park their vehicles at the Tauranga Bay car park. From here it is a short walk to the viewing platforms that provide you with the best views of the busy little seal colony below. While you watch, you may find yourself asking how long a female fur seal spends with her cubs or how long she stays at the colony. Watching the males may have you guessing as to whether they’re always around or the seals pair off or one or two male seals mate with all the females. The answers to a lot of these questions are usually best answered beforehand so that you are free to enjoy the view without having your mind distracted by so many questions. For starters, it may help to know that a female New Zealand fur seal generally spends her entire life at the same seal colony. The males, on the other hand, will arrive just before December and then start to compete with one another for the right to mate with the females. If they are successful, they may manage to establish a harem of between six and sixteen females. During the next two months, the male New Zealand fur seals will usually stay ashore and not even feed until their job is done and they finally return to the waters around mid January.

The females will remain at the colony to raise their young. They are mated again shortly after giving birth then remain to care for their current young while they wait out their gestation period. You may notice that the mothers disappear for a few days at a time. This is because they will go out and feed in the sea before returning to nurse their pups for several days on end.

There are some other great activities to enjoy in the surrounding areas. There is an interactive panel right next to the platforms which will provide you will all sorts of additional information about seal colony activities. It will also tell you quite a bit about the sealing industry that once took place here. It is also worth doing the 1.5 hour coastal walk that snakes its way from Cape Foulwind all the way to Tauranga Bay. The striking coastal views along the walk make it well worth it, and you will be able to go visit the Cape Foulwind lighthouse along the way if you wish.


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