We noticed yesterday a tree that was a bit funky in shape that was across the bay. It had big white things on the branches which I assumed were flowers since there were so many. Turns out they were birds! We decided to take the dink over and investigate. The tree was full of birds and their nests, Pied Cormorants to be exact. We had to be very careful as we approached not to get UNDER the birds. Stuff was flying everywhere! We could not tell if there were any chicks in the nests as they were too high, but there were a few birds sitting on their nests. Fun birds. We saw all black ones in the North Channel so it was fun to see the white ones. They sit very low in the water as they are a diving bird. They go under for quite a ways before they pop their heads back up to the surface.
Since we were still here in Otaio Bay, after we checked out the birds we ventured out on the trail that covered the other side of the island, the ocean side. We walked all the way to Te Hoanga Point and it is really warm here! We were not expecting the temperatures to be in the upper 60’s to lower 70’s so we do not have a lot of summer clothing. Enjoying a good sweat walking on the trails.
AND, the stairs. So far, almost every hike has had at least one set of Stairs (Glutes! Quads!). Seems NZ likes them and makes good use of them. They seem a bit steep so I guess they keep you from falling all the way down a slippery slope if it rains. But still, the sign did not instill a whole lot of confidence.
Our day today was a lot sunnier and we saw the Oceanside for the first time. Roaring surf against the rocks far below created a sound that followed us around most of our hike. It was so much calmer where we were anchored which goes to show you why we anchor in the lee side of an island. It is the side that is covered from the wind by land and boaters always listen to weather reports before tucking in somewhere at night.
One thing we did see on the island were traps. Lots of them. The traps are a wooden box and they trap rats. Ewww. But, this island no longer has rats so now the birds can nest and their eggs will not be eaten. They originally came to the islands from big sailing ships when the islands were first discovered, and they really like to eat eggs. Many birds here in NZ have become almost extinct due to rats so they are trying very hard to eliminate them from the islands in the hopes that the birds will come back and thrive.
Some fun New Zealand facts:
New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote.
New Zealand consists of many islands, but there are two main ones. The North Island and the South Island. We will be traveling to the South Island soon where we will be closer to the South Pole and cooler temperatures.
The indigenous people are called Maori and they are still fighting over a treaty that was signed in the late 1800’s with the British deciding who gets what lands. They came to NZ more than 1000 years ago from their mythical Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki and they make up 15% of today’s population. Kia Ora is their traditional greeting that means be well/healthy, but is used in the general population as a greeting of hello. We see a lot of signs throughout NZ that are written in English and Maori, a direct result of their population trying to retain their culture.