After two nights at „Peone Place“ we already have to say good-bye. Elizabeth has booked a trip to the birds island Tiritiri Matangi for us. She equips us with an opulent lunch package in an extra rucksack and lets us promise to drop in for a cup of tea when coming down from the North on our way to Rotorua.
The weather that morning is not really promising, it is pouring. When we enter the ferry though it has already cleared off. Clouds and then again sunny patches. The boat only takes passengers to the island once a day. They deliberately keep the number of visitors low so the bird population won’t be disturbed too much. This habitat also has been created artificially. Nearly all of the trees had been chopped; a lot of helpers came together to replant the bush and to create a biotope for the many endangered bird species in New Zealand.
Only a few of today’s visitors prefer to explore the island on their own, most of us are separated into groups. Each group gets a guide for the next two or three hours to lead them up certain tracks to the light house in the middle of the island. We follow Gerhard, a German guy already living in New Zealand for 40 years now. Seven years ago he committed himself to the protection and support of the project Tiritiri Matangi. Gerhard enjoys talking a bit of German with us.
Along with three other visitors from Canada we start up the so-called Wattle Track. Birds we can only see from the far, there are not many really coming close. Nevertheless the information Gerhard is giving us concerning flora and fauna are very interesting and so this expedition is full of experiences. The first feathered friend daring to come closer is a New Zealand Robin. Gerhard knows how to attract the tiny bird – just scratch the dry leaves and Robin quickly comes to search for worms.
All over the park they installed feeding boxes with sweet liquid for the honey eaters among the birds. We see Stitchbirds and Bellbirds. The Maori word for Stitchbirds is “Hihi”, meaning sunray. The pattern of the coat indeed reminds of a sunray beaming through the wood when the bird is dashing through the scrubs. Somehow I like this kind of names better!
After a short break at the light house and the obligatory visit of the gift shop up there we decide to take the Karawea Track back to the ferry. A sudden shower forces us to hide under some trees just as long as it takes for a group of school kids who have been on the ferry with us to catch up. We always try to stay away a bit because you cannot expect to see any bird when it’s so loud.
We succeed in identifying more birds and even taking quick snapshots of one or the other. Pukekus are crossing our way now and then, courtly pacing. Also a Fantail lands on a branch directly in front of us to let us admire his tail feathers. The Wood Pigeons and Karakiris we already know. We plan an overnight stay next time we come to Tiritiri Matangi as you can only see Kiwis when it is getting dark. All in all it is a fantastic expedition!