Sunday 6 February 2011

Gisborne to Napier

Well the fantastic weather continues!  Our day in Gisborne was hot, hot, hot, with temperatures in the high 20’s (deg C) and clear blue skies.  In the morning we visited Te Rongopai Marae and had a great intimate experience with the local iwi.  They welcomed us warmly onto their marae, gave us a kappa-haka performance, and as always provided a superb morning tea.

Back on the ship for lunch after a great view from Kaiti Hill above the port, and then on the buses again to visit Eastwood Hill Arboretum (somewhere I have never visited before) and then to Bushmere Estate Winery.  The Arboretum is a beautiful collection of trees planted over the last 100 years, and well worth a visit if you are in the area.  The cicadas were calling deafeningly and we managed to see a few NZ pigeon, and hear the odd bellbird...we will see more birds over the next few weeks.  There was certainly no time for birding when we arrived at Bushmere, with the marquee set up and the wines already chilled, it was straight into tasting their fantastic range of wines.  Not the usual sauvignon blancs, so some interesting stuff to sample, along with some nice platters.

We sailed in the evening with beautiful conditions before getting into Napier early the next morning...and it was another scorcher!  Apparently, record highs were recorded all around the country, so it really was a hot, hot, hot summers day!  And a perfect way to spend it was out at the Cape Kidnappers gannet colony.  We were met at the portside by Gannet Safaris and we headed out to the cape in their 4x4 buses.  We made the usual stops at the depot (bathroom stop) and then out through the farm, which after the very wet January we have just experienced was looking surprisingly green for this time of the year.  We encountered a few of the usual common farmland birds on the way out – skylark, goldfinch, greenfinch, ring-neck pheasant, feral turkey, Australian magpie, etc.  We stopped and looked out over the cliffs with their alternate layers of volcanic and river washed materials laid down over thousands of years, and then it was on to the main attraction at the Cape.

There was only a slight breeze, and beautiful clear conditions at the Plateau colony on the end of the Cape and with lots of chicks everyone was blown away by the spectacle.  Some chicks were probably only a matter of 10 days or so from fledging, but there were still a few very young chicks, and I even spotted an egg still being incubated.  I did a fair bit of interpretation and question answering as we watched everything unfold in front of us, and enjoyed a cup of coffee and some cake!

Then it was back on the busses and to the ship for lunch.  After lunch I took the afternoon off to head home for a few hours.  Nice to be at home and have a little time off...even though I was on dinner duty!  Back onboard the ship around 2215...luckily, as the gangway was already down and they thought everyone was already onboard...hmmmm!

The cliffs looking towards Clifton

The Plateau Colony with visitors

Gannets, gannets, everywhere!

Reflecting on the Port of Napier

Cranes at Port of Napier

A busy place

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