Sunday, January 17, 2016

21. Day of 24 in New Zealand: Birds, birds, birds

This night I was just too tired to get up for the stars and the morning assured me that I hadn't missed much. Thick clouds were hanging in the sky, but the sun slowly came through.


We had to check in at 9:10am at the Bluff ferry station. Today we went even further south to Stewart Island and it’s only town Oban. This remote place has 'a lot' of Kiwis. But we didn't stay for the night and as Kiwis are nocturnal, the chance to see one was not very high.


If you like rollercoasters you should sit in front of the boat, as this is the place where it moves a lot. So you feel it in the stomach - in a good way. ;) And if you thought about writing postcards on the boat, forget it or it will look more like a painting than a written text. But if there is a fisherboat on the sea you might even see a few albatrosses. They are the largest seabirds and they feed by searching the surface for dead squid and fish – or by stealing from fishing vessels. They can have a wingspan of up to 3.3 meters and a weight of 8.5 kg. The ones we saw were likely to be the ‘White-capped’ Albatrosses. Which looks a little grumpy and can have a wingspan of about 2.5 meters.


After we arrived on Steward Island we checked out the local tourist information and booked a water taxi onto Ulva Island - a bird sanctuary 5 minutes away from Steward Island. On the Island you can find a lot of native birds like the Tomtit, Steward Island robin, Steward Island Weka, Kākā, Tūī, New Zealand wood pigeon and even the brown Kiwi.


Apparently there are around 60 Kiwis on the island - or basketballs with legs as the water taxi skipper told us. ;) And if you're lucky you can see them - sometimes even during the day. Unfortunately, we didn't see Kiwis, but the other abovementioned native birds were kind enough to show up. The weka was even quite bold. At first it didn't seem to notice us, then it stood still for a few seconds until we saw that another weka was nearing him and just then it attacked the other and chased him around the forest onto the beach. As soon as we ate some snacks it came really close and even tried to get into the backpack.


The forest on Ulva Island was really like you would imagine a rainforest. You hear birds everywhere around you and the fauna is very dense. An awesome experience. Unfortunately you cannot stay over night on Ulva Island, but Steward Island isn’t less impressive and it has a lot more Kiwis than Ulva Island – over 10’000. But comparing the area with the number of Kiwis, Ulva Island has 23 Kiwis per km2 and Stewart Island only 6. So the chance of seeing one is higher on Ulva Island. But as there are overnight tours on Stewart Island with a 99% chance of seeing a wild Kiwi, it’s not unlikely on both islands.


After Ulva Island we walked back on the two ‘nature walks’ called Fuchsia Walk and Raroa Walk. Still impressive and not as wild and lively as the birds on Ulva Island. At 5pm we checked in on the Stewart Island Ferry and had dinner at the Anchorage restaurant in Bluff (one of the few).


Location History:




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