We catch the train from Grafton down to Britomart carrying all our gear for the w/e. Tiritiri Matangi is an open reserve, a bird sanctuary, an island, and one of the few places where there’s a chance of spotting a kiwi in the wild. The trip is run by 360 Discovery and there are lots of DOC volunteers on the boat to give us info and advice. This is Mike’s birthday treat and has been booked for ages because we wanted to stay overnight (kiwis being nocturnal) and the DOC hut (Department of Conservation) is booked up a long way in advance. There are no shops or cafes so we’re taking all our food with us for the w/e. The island’s fairly small, you can easily walk around it in a day, and it’s north of Auckland, about 1.5 hours on the ferry. It was farm land back in 1980, with only a few pockets of native bush but since being taken over by DOC it’s been re-planted and made rodent free so rare birds can thrive.
|Hobb's Beach from the Kowerau track|
|Mike with lighthouse|
|Little Blue Penguin|
|Above the Arches, Fisherman's Bay, east coast|
|The birthday boy|
We get up about 6 am to catch the dawn chorus then have breakfast altogether round the kitchen table, and go off walking again up the eastern side of the island. Make our way down to Fisherman’s Bay where there’s a family of oyster catchers and some shags. It’s a lovely peaceful little bay with loads of sea shells and drift wood washed up. Then the kids arrive and chase the birds away as they charge over to show us their beach-combing finds. They are great kids but don’t really mix with bird-watching. Back to the bunkhouse for lunch then pack up to go back on the ferry. It’s a windy day and by now the sea’s looking pretty rough and I’m wondering if we’re going to make it back at all. Turns out to be a fun journey with loads of shrieking and laughing as the boat rocks and reels its way back to Auckland.
|Oyster Catchers and Shags before the kids arrive|