Sunday, February 22, 2009

More Island Life

We spent a total of seven days at wonderful and remote Stewart Island. Besides hiking and birdwatching, we also had the opportunity to take several boat rides while were on the island. One day it was over to nearby Ulva Island. The next it was a historical tour where we covered several coves searching for penguins and other sea birds.

Waiting for the water taxi on a rainy Stewart Island day
An afternoon guest Searching for penguins Our day at Ulva Island Becky checks for rats and seeds on the island :) A fine ale in the island pub Fresh Stewart island oysters Our tiny plane home from Auckland

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Glowing Skies

Rakiura meaning "glowing skies", and is the Maori name for Stewart Island. After a few days chasing birds and getting to know the island ,we set of on the three day 36k Rakiura track. We hiked around 8 miles a day. At night we were tucked up in one of Stewart Islands many Department of Conservation huts. Each hut sleeps around twenty people and provides trampers with a bunk bed, outhouses and water. The rest was up to us. With Becky in charge, we had sumptuous dinners each night and even schlepped in a bit of wine. The trail was lovely, and the first day we meandered across several gorgeous beaches. The second day was a lot up hill and wading through muddy tree roots. We sure did sleep well that night. Noted as one of New Zealand's Great Walks, we certainly did agree.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stewart Island Bird Life

Stewart Island is New Zealand's third largest island. An hour ferry ride from Bluff, which is New Zealand's most southern city, Stewart Island is 85% National Park. This makes it an oasis for trampers and birdwatchers. After three flights and ferry ride we arrived on Stewart Island with our friends Chris and Becky who came all the way from Phoenix to join us on our adventure. Enthusiastic birders and naturalists, they are wonderful to explore nature and hike with. Stewart Island is known for it's bird life. Within minutes of arriving we were surrounded by Kakas, a type of parrot only found in New Zealand. Everyday around early evening the Kakas would come for visit to eat crackers and entertain. At one point we had about ten or eleven Kakas vying for our attention. We even had a few that would arrive early in the morning cooing outside our window. Stewart Island is also known for it's healthy Kiwi population which is said to be about 20,000. With that said, they are still quite hard to spot . Mark and I were lucky enough to see one digging for it's dinner but it was gone in a flash into the tall grass. Other birds we spotted included the Mollymauk , the Kakarikki, a smaller and very colorful parrot and also many Wekas which look very much like Kiwis but are not. These mischievous birds are not shy, in fact they have been known sneak up and peck at your ankles and zip your lunch right out of your backpack.

A gorgeous Kakarikki
Chris the Parrothead
I kept my distance and played photographer much of the time, it was a bit Alfred Hitchcock at times
Becky gets some parrot love
Check out this video of Mark!

Wekas in action The grand Mollymauk
Oyster Catchers and babies!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

feelin' irie

We have had a busy couple of weeks full of visitors. Our dear friends from the SV Irie were back in New Zealand after a year absence. We sure were glad to see them. We met these two at a tiny island in French Polynesia and had the pleasure of cruising with them all the way to NZ. Poki and Christian spent a week with us here in Tauranga while they searched for the perfect van for their South Island adventure. We can't wait for their return, and the stories of their travels.