Reviews & trip reports
December 2, 2010
A trip to the Hawkes Bay to meet up with old acquaintances from the USA provided an opportunity to visit Cape Kidnappers again. The Bay does provide better birding than here at home in the Wairarapa so quite often head for the Bay, to Ahuriri and nearby Boundary Stream. This time we were determined to get to Cape Kidnappers which in the past had always somehow worked out to be a trip too far.
We stayed up the Tuki Tuki Valley overlooking the river towards Te Mata Peak. The vineyard above the river environment provided its own wildlife, hares, rabbits. pheasant, california quail. The river itself was frequented by the big black shag, paradise duck, pied stilts, mallards, and trout fishermen. I watched a redpoll in brilliant breeding plumage, so red he was almost catching fire. Kingfishers abound.
We had lunch with our friends who were staying at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers which is home to one of New Zealand's largest private conservation reserves, providing a predator free environment alongside a functioning farm and international golf course. The farm owners funded a fence costing more than $2million to keep predators out. It extends more than 10km across the peninsula. There are nearly 3,500 traps and bait stations. Kiwi have already been reintroduced back into the penisula along with New Zealand's rarest duck the Pateke. There are plans to reintroduce at least twelve more threatened species.
While having lunch on the terrace, I watched a NZ pipit wander inside and wondered if they had learned to look for crumbs like any old house sparrow. The flax was in bloom so was collecting all the tuis in the vicinity. Also heard a shining cuckoo.
The next day looked again at the options to see the gannet colony. We couldn't walk around the beach as we had missed the tide, the tractor was not operating as it was a week day, so we were left with the bus tour through The Farm to the colony nesting on the plateau which is the only one where you are able to get quite close to the birds. The trip is about four hours in total, and quite hair-raising, but the scenery spectacular. The chicks were close to hatching so think a bit later in December might be the better time to go.
— N. Olliver, Greytown, N.Z.
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