After a good nights sleep we were up and on the road relatively early. First stop was a lookout overview of Kaikoura township, somewhere we hadn’t had time to visit during the busy preceding day. The sun was shining and although a little crisper than the temperature had been the day promised to be another stunning one. We glimpsed a couple of cirl buntings flying past, but none would stop and perch were we could see them, but two dunnocks (our first of the trip) sat on power lines for us to see well.
We then headed south along the spectacular coastline. We made a couple of stops for scenery and at one point several dolphin swimming boats were just offshore surrounded by leaping dusky dolphins. Awesome. Carrying on we left the coast and headed slightly inland, tracking south towards Christchurch. We stopped in at the Christchurch Antarctic Centre and picked up Nigel Milius, a new guide coming to join us for the last week of the tour, and then headed inland. And of course, what time did we hit Sheffield – the home of the World famous Sheffield Pie Shop – lunch time! The que was out the door, but we managed to fight our way in, grabbed some lunch and then headed on up the road to a picnic spot to munch on the pies. And as usual they were a crowd pleaser!
Carrying on up we started to get into the beautiful scenery of the foothills of Southern Alps. The sun was still shining, but as we moved in land and higher the temperature slowly dropped. We were keeping eyes peeled for New Zealand falcon, and anything else, but not to be seen. We again made a couple of scenic stops, seeing our first great crested grebe, some obviously migrating post-breeding banded dotterel, and a few other bits and bobs.
As we arrived into Arthur’s Pass it didn’t take long to find a kea, but we decided to move on up and find some that weren’t hanging around café tables waiting for scraps! We got up to a site where we had a spectacular view…and there was no kea. But a few minutes later one flew in and we got to enjoy watching it up to its usual antics. And then it flew off and showed us its lovely red underwing. We decided to head back to another spot and go for a forest walk. We enjoyed the beautiful moss covered beech forest, and saw a lot of rifleman, with really lovely close views. Our first brown creeper of the trip also came in for a look to investigate us, and our first South Island robin also.
We then headed on to our accommodation and checked in. Located in a beautiful valley with extensive views we had some down time and a chance to rest up before dinner. We had a relatively early dinner and then headed out to a spot to listen for great spotted kiwi. Unfortunately there was a light drizzle falling, but luckily it eased a little. As it got darker we heard a distant paid calling – first the female then the male, and then a bit later another male calling, and then another female a bit closer, before another pair called – possibly the same as the first. Although none were close, it was great to realise there a good few birds running round on the hillsides.
After just over an hour, we decided to head on back to the accommodation, driving the road slowly and keeping eyes peeled just in case. Everyone slept well!
Day total – Seen = 42 + 1 leader only (black-fronted tern) + 1 heard (great-spotted kiwi); new for the trip = 5; total for the trip to date = 141Bird of the day – Kea x5
|A kea shuffles its wings showing off part of its underwing|