Birds of a Feather....

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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What I did
Gannet Colony

Flag of New Zealand  , Hawke's Bay,
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Zealand has some amazing birds.

First of all there is the iconic kiwi. So shy and hard to find and able to lay the hugest egg in comparision to its size - Ouch!! Then we were so impressed with the gannets because they sort of epitomise the NZ/Australia relationship. The gannets at Cape Kidnappers have their babies at the colony then when the babies grow to independence they fly all the way to Australia. They spend the equivalent in bird life of their teenage and 20's and 30's in Australia feeding then head back to NZ to breed. Very much like the the many New Zealanders over in Australia working!  

After a very pleasant and uneventful ferry ride across the ocean between the South and North Islands we headed to Wellington and a night tour of "Zealandia". Fairly centrally located in the city, this 225 hectare of natural bush protected by a predator proof fence, is a reasonably reliable place to get to see a kiwi, although it is in no way guaranteed. We were lucky, despite the noisy and inconsiderate people in our group, and managed to see two kiwis, very briefly. The same night another night tour group, did not see any. On the subject of the noisy people, it is amazing that people pay money for a tour of birds (and know to be hard to find birds) then expect to see them when they noisily clump along the path and chat away!

Our next major bird watching was a visit to the Cape Kidnappers to see the largest Gannet colony in New Zealand. It was quite an adventure getting to the colony via a tractor and trailer along a rugged beach landscape. Our tour guide explained the geography of the cliffs as we went along and told us of the excitement the day before when a German tourist had tried to climb down one of the cliffs from above, fell and became stranded. He had to be rescued by helicopter. Later we were to see the story in the newspaper.

A very steep climb took us up to the rugged hedland where the gannets seemd to have chose a very exposed spot to nest. I guess it gave them clear view to any incoming predators. The sheer quantity of birds massed in one place is truly astounding. They squawk and flutter, smooch, make love and fight squashed together on a tiny hedland. They share parenting duties equally and mate for life.

Later that afternoon we reversed to the trip back on the tractor trailer enjoying the view of the majestic and unstable cliffs from another angle then back to our campervan and on to Hawkes Bay for the night. 

Travel Tip: We totally recommend the Gannet Beach Adventures tour as a great day out and value for money. Contact, or or phone 06 875 9898
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