27 October 2014
Last week’s journey led me to a very special part of New Zealand, the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve, to view its very special inhabitants.
The reserve lies on the Waitangitoana River 14 km north-west of Whataroa in South Westland, about a half-hour drive from Franz Josef. The coastal swampland remains covered in its original vegetation—a thick forest blanket of mature kahikatea. This pristine habitat houses New Zealand’s only kotuku (Egretta alba modesta) breeding site (discovered in 1865 by surveyor Gerhard Mueller), and one of only four known breeding sites for the royal spoonbill (Platalea regia). During the breeding season (September to February) around 40 pairs of kotuku and 16 pairs of spoonbill make camp, harmoniously side by side, within the reserve. The total New Zealand population of kotuku numbers fewer than 200; and royal spoonbills number around 130. The only way you can get to see these birds is to go with White Heron Sanctuary Tours.
(Most of that paragraph is from an article I’m attempting to get published. A very long shot, so you’ll probably see the rest of it here in due course!)
And here’s some of what I saw!
25 October 2014
So I finally made it to the Kotuku breeding ground at the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve a couple of days ago. Outstanding. Took over 300 photos. Have only had a play with a few images so far, but this is my favourite. More (many more) later.
27 September 2014
Flew back from my first trip to Rarotonga this morning. EARLY this morning. We left Raro at 0235 local time (1235 UTC), and arrived at 0500 local time here in NZ (1700 UTC). Have to say, travelling at those hours doesn’t strike me as entirely desirable — but we had a good load of passengers, so clearly the demand exists.
The weather in the tropics was kind (for the 34 hours we were there), although swimming wasn’t an option with the surf chopping up the water in the lagoon and creating something of a mini-rip on the steep-ish beach — making it impossible to avoid the coral. Ouch.
15 September 2014
And finally, just a couple of panoramas from Adelaide.