Monday 25 February 2019

Day fourteen - ROWI

We had a little lie in after kiwi hunting last night, and then, shock horror!  We had a cooked breakfast and relaxing start to the day!  The skies seemed to be looking a lot more positive, and as we made our way up and over Arthur’s Pass it certainly looked clearer.  We made a stop and found three kea, including a known bird that was rehabilitated after losing an eye.  Unfortunately, some tourists had left a banana and capsicum (!?) for them, so we picked this up and put it in a bag in the van to put in the trash.
We got some photos, enjoyed the scenery and the antics of the kea, and then carried on towards the West Coast.  We wanted to make a bee-line for the landslide that had closed the road for a couple of days, but was now open.  It was between Hari Hari and Whataroa, and we wanted to get it behind us so that Franz Josef and our night with Okarito kiwi was set in concrete.
We stopped quickly at a sewage ponds, where there were a lot of waterfowl – a good collection of scaup, shoveler, grey teal and mallard, with the odd Pacific black duck. Nothing out of the ordinary though. We then grabbed some lunches, refuelled and headed on a little further to a beautiful little spot with a lake and some nice forest.  We went for a walk first, managing to find a couple of weka, tomtit, and our first brown creeper.  Nice views of all, so a decent little spot.  And lunch in the sunshine with spectacular scenery was pretty enjoyable.
We carried on south, checking each and every snag and tree top for falcon.  Eyes were peeled, and not for the lack of trying did we fail.  The landslide was cleared enough to allow traffic through, one lane at a time, and sure was a pretty big one.  A huge amount of rock, mud and debris had been cleared thanks to the local contractors, and work was still underway.  We then carried on out to Okarito, meeting with Toby from Okarito Kiwi Tours, who gave us a run down on the approach for the evening’s kiwi trip.  All very exciting!
We then made a stop for fernbird, but despite hearing them, didn’t manage to see one. So we carried on in to Franz and checked in to our accommodation.  An hour or so to rest up, then a beaut dinner of Asian styles which was really good, and then back out to Okarito.  We met with our guide Mike and went through an intensive training regime, which most of us passed.  As it slowly got darker we moved into place, knowing exactly what to expect.  We knew our kiwi was pretty close, and every now and then could hear him cracking a twig or rustling through a fern.  After about 50 minutes, with some moving up and down with precision, we could hear him coming out towards us.  A pause, and then Mike slowly put the light on and there was an Okarito kiwi (Rowi) literally 4m in front of us all!  He paused, and then moved off along and across in front of us, before re-entering the bush.  A few moments later he let rip with about 15 calls – from just a few steps away from us – AWESOME!  We left him to his night, and headed off.  A massive thanks to Mike for a great bit of work getting us all in to the right position and showing us one very special bird!

Bird of the day– Okarito kiwi x8 (perhaps?!)
A rare bird makes an appearance

Kea playing up for the camera

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