Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Reaching back to the catch up on the blog project... Somehow I've stuffed up the HTML on this post, and the "improved" Blogger setup is too much of a pain to try to sort it out.

A number of weeks ago now, Shannon and I spend two days and a night out on Tiritiri Matangi island, which is a bird sanctuary that's about an hour's ferry ride from city center.

The island was farmed in the middle of the 1900s and has been rehabilitated to its natural state and the bird life is now thriving, if not managed. There are a number of unique birds, including the takahe. Allow me to introduce Greg.

Greg has about a dozen friends, and they are the only birds of this kind left. At about the time of this writing, a few of them were going to be moved over to another island to try to start a new habitat.

The facilities on the island are from the farm days, as well as early navigation. There is a pretty nice bunkhouse that sleeps 15 or so folks. It was about two thirds full the night we were there. It's the red roof.

It's an excellent island for walking, as you can circumnavigate the whole thing in about three hours. And there is plenty of good bird life along the way, including the aforementioned takahe, fantails, hihi, bellbirds, saddlebacks, and many more. There are kiwi on the island, too, but we never managed to see one, despite a long walk in the dark. We heard one though.

The hihi and bellbirds were shockingly loud. This video shows what it was like to stand near a feeding station. What you can't really tell is that they are swarming around you, and they are much louder than the video indicates. It's shocking, really.

 It turns out, there is also great coastline and plant life as well. Makes for a pretty lovely day of walking around, taking pictures, and snacking.

There are penguins on the island, too. When we were there it was nesting season, so you could look into the penguin boxes through the glass tops and see mothers keeping eggs warm. They seemed to not be bothered by the visitors.

After a windy night we awoke to find that the ferry ride out was going to be a rough one. So rough that they took the boat away somewhere safer during the day. It turned out to be a pretty serious ride back, with six or seven foot seas and gusts of about 100 kph.

Another lovely place, right outside of Auckland.

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