Unexpected Bird Sanctuary Camping Trip

There is no sitting still on this job, so when I heard my coworkers were going camping in Tawharanui park, I hoped I could join in.

I was pulling weeds up in one of the many gardens on the day this was all supposed to go down when Max appeared. ‘I can’t go on this trip anymore, do you want to join the others camping?’ I had already caught something about him possibly not going, so my bag was already half packed on my bed. A couple of hours later I was sitting in the old barrel on my way to the campsite!

I hadn’t done any research on the campsite (cause I wasn’t going) so when I read a sign that said we were entering kiwi territory I asked: ‘There are kiwis here!?’ To which the reply came ‘Yeah? This is a bird sanctuary, it’s the whole reason we’re here.’

A bit of background on the kiwi (the bird, not the fruit): They are the smallest in the family of ratites, which also includes the ostrich. There are five kiwi species and they are relatively heavy for birds. They have developed completely for the flightless life. Before the settlers came to New Zealand there were only three species of mammals and they were all bats. Kiwis didn’t have any natural predators. That all changed when the settlers brought their menagerie from Europe. From the estimated millions of kiwis that lived in New Zealand before it got “discovered” not 70.000 are left. The kiwi is an endangered bird and several things are done to get their numbers up. One of those is making predator-free reserves like the ones we were visiting.

So your chances of seeing a kiwi are slim, even in the reserve. Chantel, who is mad about birds, was practically jumping through the roof as soon as we hit the grounds. Audrey had brought her grandson for the beach that was part of the sanctuary, so after setting up our tents we all went to the ocean.

I know I’ve already shared some pics of different beaches, but Oh, My, Stars, this beach!

No words, just pictures.

We found a cave with shade we could chill in until it was time for our evening walk. Kiwis are nocturnal, so we had the best chance of spotting them at dusk.

After climbing over a fence and walking up and down hills between sheep and cow (all part of the trail!), we had to call it quits. No kiwis unfortunately. We did find a nice lookout, so Deanna and I decided to go watch the sunrise there the next day. After that, we would both go our own ways to explore different trails.

Audrey had recommended the Ecology Trail and it was supposed to be a two-hour round-trip, which sounded good to me. On my flipflops, no water, no hat, over the beach, rocks, through the woods, I thought it was amazing. I was walking down a forest path when I heard a rustling on my right. Wouldn’t you believe it, a kiwi!

I spotted an actual kiwi! It took it a while to notice me, so I managed to take a few pictures. Needless to say, my day was made!

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