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Kapiti Island Overnighter

Kapiti Island Overnighter

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After an eventful landing at Auckland on our return to NZ, we connected to Wellington in preparation for our much anticpated stay on one of New Zealand's premier nature reserve's Kapiti Island. We arrived on the island where we were greeted by the Department of Conservation staff. Kapiti is famous for its variety of native bird species, several of which have been introduced as a last ditch stand insurance against extinction, on this 'land predator-free' haven.

Almost immediately ashore we came across one of New Zealands, almost mythical, flightless birds, in the shape of the world's largest member of the Rallidae. Takahē were assumed to be extinct but were rediscovered  in the Murchison Mountains. With a world population of just 263 birds, at the beginning of 2013, this small introduced population on Kapiti has become vital to the survival of the species.

We made our way slowly uphill seeing the first of many Weka and after a time we stopped in the vicinity of some supplementary feeders. Here we watched a succession of native endemic species including Bellbird, Saddleback, as well as the very threatened Stichbird (also known as Hihi), a type of honeyeater. Many of these birds are colour-ringed to help monitor the population. After a time we were 'stalked' by one of new Zealand's large and highly intelligent parrots the Kaka. They are adept at raiding rucksacks for tasty snacks.

We were due to stay overnight and soon made our way back downhill for the boat trip to our accommodation.This is courtesy of Kapiti Island Nature Tours. This was to be a major highlight of our time in New Zealand. Our target birds included Little Spotted Kiwi and other nocturnal specialists. However before dark we still had good light and good weather to take in more of the islands endemic highlights such as New Zealand Woodpigeon and Red-fronted Parakeet (Kakariki)

After dark our guide led a small party off through the bush. Ian Southey squeaked out a Morepork, a native owl of New Zealand, illuminated in the light of a pencil torch I reeled off a few shots without flash. A short time later we enjoyed the first of several brief sightings of a Little Spotted Kiwi. Sadly they never gave the chance for a photograph as the scampered along. We were luckier with Little Blue Penguin, which waddled to within a few centimetres of Adele's feet. On our return to base a Brown Teal blundered into the legs of one of our party, but again was gone before it could be captured by the camera. No flash photography is aloud on these tours, so it's low illumination and high ISO ratings only. This though was a brilliant evening and highly recommended.

Deteriorating weather the next morning meant an unscheduled early departure for our next destination Kiakoura.

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