We left Manapouri for Stewart Island – which happens to be New Zealand’s third major Island. I have been to the Island 3 years ago and loved every minute of my stay – despite torrential rain and a very grumpy customer (I was her driver-guide at the time).
So off we went and lo and behold my dad realised he lost his camera on one of the earlier photo stops – an hour before.. not a good start. Did find only a smashed battery at that stop – so back towards Bluff – barely made the ferry to Stewart Island and realised mum left her mangy old film camera in the car.. so I am the only one with a camera – and no tripod (see earlier post) and a Kiwi spotting tour booked…
When then the Forveaux Strait lived up to its reputation and threw some big and choppy waves at us – for a while I thought my mum would be mad at me for the rest of the trip – despite the sea sickness tablets…. when one sits in a shallow ferry and the waves on the outside come up above the roof… that’s a little scary.
Clearly we made it or I would not write this now – so back on dry land and in our lovely accommodation at the Bay Motel we were greeted by a cheeky kaka.
It can only get better…. off to a kiwi spotting night trip with Bravo Adventure Cruises – back on a boat… oh boy poor mum! But was it worth it! 3 Kiwi in the wild – just like that – AMAZING. I did try to take some photos despite the missing tripod – see for yourself….
Down there they are different – they feed in the bush as much as on the beach – especially after some nice stormy weather when a lot of seaweed gets washed on to the sand – they forage for the little insects that feed of that seaweed – very interesting to see them poke with their long beaks into the sand. They are amazing creatures anyway – maybe that is why we as a Nation adopted them as our National animal.
Stewart Island is also the only place in the country where Kiwi are not currently endangered – very interesting fact.
The next day we decided to do our own walk on Ulva Island using a water taxi to get there (yes more boats…) since my dear friend Ulva (yes that is her name) from Ulva Guided Walks had prior commitments and could not guide us on that day. However – because I have been on the island before with Ulva and we had a nice guide-book on which birds to expect we felt comfortable enough to do it on our own this time – and it worked.
Let me say that every kiwi (not just us of course) should at least once in their life time go to Stewart Island and Ulva Island in particular – the amount of bird life present there is unsurpassed in this concentration in this country. This is what it must have looked and sounded like when Maori first got here – even when Europeans first arrived here. It’s hard to explain – but there are birds everywhere – birds I have never seen anywhere else in the wild. How about you?
Here are but a few we’ve seen – Kereru – Wood Pigeon (literally hundreds of them), New Zealand Robin, lovely and cute Tomtit, rare Rifleman, even rarer Saddleback, Kaka, Stewart Island Weka, Red crowned Kākāriki, the White Capped Albatross and of course aforementioned Stewart Island Brown Kiwi
Does it get any better than that? I should think not.