Monday, 23 April 2012

Stewart Island part 9, kiwi spotting

One of the top high-lights of the whole trip for me was to see Kiwis. They are a New Zealand national symbol and everyone loves these funny little birds that can't fly. If you ask around, I'm sure only 1 in 10 kiwis (as in the people) would have seen one, and most then only in captivation. Stewart Island apparently is one of the best places to see them. Most see them on Mason Beach on the west coast, which is part of the big northern circuit tramp (or if you're rich you fly). You can also go on a tour with Bravo Adventure and see wild kiwis on Ocean Beach. Or if you're lucky enough to have sailed your own boat to Stewart Island, and are lucky to get the DOC permit visit Ocean Beach by yourself (quite a mission to get the (free) DOC permit, we were lucky to get one), you can simply go there yourself! You're allowed to go there during the day, but from 6pm to 6am you need a permit. We first went there during the day, and that itself is a lovely trip. There's a wharf in Glory Bay on the eastern side and there's a short walking track over to Ocean Beach which is on the main coast of Stewart Island, just south of the entrance to Paterson Inlet. It's quite a long and wide beach and we were quite excited when we spotted these prints.
We went back a few days later with our permit and after the tour operator had finished his tour (after 11pm), and weren't quite sure what to expect. Would we be able to spot any kiwis on the big beach? We certainly wouldn't be able to hear them beforehand, as the surf was quite noisy. Our dim lights (not to disturb the kiwis) didn't help a whole lot. But suddenly we spotted one a bit ahead of us. WAUW. I was so excited, I couldn't stop pulling at Phil's arm. The kiwi couldn't have cared less about our presence, it was very busy picking out bugs from the seaweed. It's impossible to take photos in the dark without a flash, so I only got some video of it. The photo below is a snap shop of the video, obviously very poor quality, but it's a kiwi :-) Don't worry about the light beam from our torch, it really was very weak and from a good 5 meters away. I was surprised how big it actually was, and very round (or fat?) too, kind of like a soccer ball! And a big long beak. We continued along the beach and saw several other ones, equally busy eating insect.

A couple of hunters were staying in a hut in Glory Bay, and one of them was tell us about how they sometimes track something noisy through the bush, slowly closing in on what they think is a deer. When they are really close they look all over the place and just can't spot the deer. Then they look down and there's this little kiwi clumsily walking around, making a lot of noise. Very funny and cute!

No comments:

Post a Comment