Poms Visit the Kiwis

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End May 31, 2012

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What I did
Wildlife Center, Franz Josef

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, December 12, 2011

Arriving into Franz Josef village we were full of hope to step foot on a Glacier. However the weather had other ideas, with rain and a large amount of cloud cover preventing any trips. As we were staying the night we decided to take it easy, so we first walked to the base of the Fox Glacier (30 km south of Franz Josef).

It was a 1 hour return walk to the terminal face, which is further than previous visitors would have walked as the Glacier was retreating. The extent of the retreat was amazing, the wake of the Glacier obvious due to the huge gully cut through the rock, and the lack of plant material except at the very top of the ridges on either side.

We then returned to Franz for the Kiwi Experience where we were allowed to view young kiwi's including one that had only hatched that morning. The Program was set up by the DoC (Department of Conservation) to increase the numbers of the Rowi Kiwi that is at near extinction levels and only found in this one area. It is a pretty extreme Program, with eggs being removed from nests and raised to 1 yr old before being released.
Basically the survival rate in the wild is less than 15% due to stoats, ferrets and road kill. When the kiwis are over 1 kg at one year of age, they can evade the predators that threaten them. The birds can live up to 60 years and remain fertile their whole lives, so hopefully this extreme intervention will continue to improve numbers.

That evening James decided he hadn't had enough Glacier for the day, so we walked to the base of
the Franz Josef Glacier with its large ice cave and torrent of a river running out. The water is a cloudy grey here due to "rock flour". The pools further down from the base of the Glacier however where brilliant blue due to trapped ice at the bottom of the pools that hadn’t melted.

- Liz
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Neal on

It must have such an imact seeing the retreat first hand.

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