After our exciting trip through the Nevis valley with the sun beating down on us the day before, it was quite a shock to wake to a very cold and bleak day the next morning.
Today we had plans to hunt for a pair of famous kārearea or the New Zealand bush falcons that frequent the Poolburn area. The first and only time I had been up there previously the road had been closed because of snow, so was unable to reach the top, but I saw 3 kārearea from the wagon that day lower down.
This time, my second attempt to get to the dam up the top there was no snow, so up the wagon climbed to the top of the hills we went, looking for bush falcons except there was no bush and no Falcons.
These birds live completely out in the open in central Otago region which was very novel for us as our North Island birds never seem to stray far from the bush. As we climbed higher up the road the temperature plummeted.
We scanned the large rock formations each side of the road searching for the classic and distinctive telltale silhouette of the kārearea against the steel grey sky.
A perfect rock for a karearea to sit atop on the lookout for prey except there weren’t no kārearea. There is something starwarsy about this rock.
Our last instalment left our heroes staring somewhat nervously at the gate to the Nevis track. All over that gate and posts surrounding that gate were a plethora of warnings about the tracks ruthlessness during the winter months.
While this was mid-autumn, it had been a very wet autumn.
However, there was no turning back so up the track we went gaining height rapidly trying to ignore that nagging apprehension deep in my Tummy. This is a long track and a long walk out if we got stuck.
In my last blog, we, Steve and I were in Hasst, a small town at the southernmost end of the west coast road of the South Island.
With no way to head further south, we turned east, away from the sea and the heavy rain-sodden bush covered mountains, up through the Haast Pass into the open tussock lands of the Otago region.
All the time hoping the rain that had dogged us thus far on our trip will be left sulking behind us on the coast.
We made our way up through the high silver beech forest stopping every now and again to see what birdlife would grace us with its presence.
First up Mr Tomtit or ngirungiru his Maori name, whatever he answers to he came into our call to spy us out.
Still bubbling over with excitement after our Rock Wren encounter, we held an executive board meeting and it was decided we would strike out west, then head south down the coast, so we jumped in our covered wagon, pressing the go button we geeeeed up the horseeeees and westward we went.
Eventually, we were faced with a huge puddle of water known as the Tasman Sea. With no way to get around it, we turned left and scooted south with the rain once again hot on our heels.
We wanted to get to Haast that evening so with the rain catching us up and pelting down at times we didn’t stop much on the way, however, one place we did stop was at Whataroa, home of the famous kōtuku or White Heron colony for lunch.
I have made it my lifelong mission to search for the best feed of fishinchips in New Zealand I have come close to that perfect meal a few times and the shop at Whataroa is now in the top ten bestser-rist fishinchips in the country. That is according to the Boney Whitefoot scale and that counts.
For the uninitiated, this is a Kiwi feed of “Fishinchips”
A Kiwi icon, Fishinchips
Part 2 of the great southern Rock Wren trip
The Otira Rock Stars
Slowly my internal computer system booted up for the day. The synaptic connections in my brain were fizzling and spluttering, fading in and out but fired up once a solid connection was established.
Once upon a time I could leap out of bed and hit the floor running.
Nowadays it’s not even a controlled stagger, I’m more like a drunken dancer, lurching and weaving around the bedroom until my error correcting software runs its diagnostic program, ignores all my missing and damaged sectors on my hard drive and fools me into thinking I’m running just fine and dandy.
Coffee in hand I walk out on the balcony of the two-story Otira Hotel and I am confronted by the weather trying its best to behave its self, but sadly not having much success.
Drizzle and fog permeated the landscape, but no breeze, so two out of three ain’t bad according to Meatloaf.
Today was to be the big day out there yonder in them there mountains.
Just kilometres up the road lay a beautiful alpine Valley where two tiny little birds lived and we have to find them. I mean how hard could that be?
The very reason we, Steve and I have come to the South Island was to find and photograph the two little Rock Wrens that reportedly live up the Otira Stream.
We are excited to get going, so up to the Otira summit, we zoomed, to have breakfast among the clouds with the local Kea population, hoping that the cloud will lift and give us a great day.
The Kea is a smart bird but also gorgeous.
The New Zealand kea