Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Motuihe Island 29 April

Last Sunday we took the ferry out to Motuihe Island, one of the many conservation islands over here, where European mammals like mice and rats are eradicated and native species introduced and encouraged to multiply. There are no native mammals, only birds of course. They're also replanting large areas with native trees as most of the little islands like this one were used by early settlers for farming and much of the native bush was chopped down. Our walk didn't quite turn out as planned as it happens but it makes for an amusing tale.

A flock of terns greets us on our arrival at the wharf

It began very well, the weather being fine, and the sea calm for the ferry crossing, and we set off walking around the island with our lunch and waterproofs in our backpacks. Walking in the bush we saw loads of saddlebacks, fantails, tuis and eastern rosellas. Pukekoes, nervous creatures that they are, run startled by our appproach. There are some really pretty beaches and we see a number of rare NZ dotterells, herons, flocks of terns, a Caspian tern, and loads of lovely black oyster catchers (my favourite because they're so comical). So far, so good.

The NZ doterrel

Strange fruit growing on the trunk of the puriri tree

It began to go wrong when we left the path and decided to make our way round the beaches rather than follow the footpaths. What a lovely time we were having meandering along these isolated empty beaches watching the birds, but at the end of the 2nd beach we couldn't find a way round the headland and ended up having to climb a steep tussock-covered cliff. This was bad enough but when we finally got to the top (Mike behind me in case I fell) we found a hedge of gorse blocking the way. We eventually found a way through and I collapsed in a heap at the top. This, though extremely dodgy, had been quite fun, but afterwards things began to seriously fall apart.
View from the top of the cliff looking across to Waiheke Island
Collapsed at the top of the cliff having fought our way through the gorse

We had decided to have lunch at Calypso Bay but try as we might we just couldn't find a way down there. The footpaths drawn on the map of the island bore no relation to the paths on the ground (as is so often the case in our experience) and we went down 3 dead ends before deciding to head off into unchartered territory. This resulted in us getting stuck down not one but two separate gullies. At this stage of the game Mike gets a bit rattled and wants to jump over the gullies and forge a path down to the bay, though I warn him I've no intention of following. Minor disagreement ensues as you can imagine. We're both starving by this time which doesn't help. Eventually Mike coaxes me into jumping over so eyes closed and over I go. I survive the leap, just managing to avoid landing on top of Mike. The nervous tension of all this immediately goes to my bladder so once I've stabilised I need to pee (I'm not proud and will pee anywhere, though believe me balancing on a tussock in a gully isn't the most comfortable place). We then get stuck into a bag of crisps and some muffins to calm us down and keep us going.

We plodded on, never did get to Calypso Bay, but by the time we found the main path we only just had time to eat a very late lunch and return to the wharf in time for the ferry. So an eventful day, but not quite what we had planned. 

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