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Friday, 14 January 2011

New Zealand - better late than never - 3 years on

A few years back, my daughter got married near Auckland and I now have a family on the other side of the world which is great, and added to this, we now have a lovely Granddaughter, Erin. Obviously we flew out there for the wedding , the flight was the only negative from the trip, 10 hours from Heathrow to Los Angeles and then 12 hours LA to Auckland. If like me, you get restless and bored it is hard work, you can only watch so many films. In the end I was counting the miles and hours on the small screen on the seat in front of me, I was slowly going nuts, not quite at the straight jacket stage, but fast approaching.

Pukeko in my daughters garden
On landing I found that the country is unspoilt and naturally stunning, the people are very friendly and it is great to see no rubbish strewn everywhere, it was one of the first things that I noticed, everywhere was clean and tidy.

Somehow I had managed to bring my binoculars and camera with me, and had also obtained a New Zealand Field Guide. It was quite refreshing to look at a bird and not have a clue what it was ( still get like this in England at times) and then consult the book and try; first put it into a family; and then identify it. It was school all over again and I must admit I enjoyed the challenge of it all, even though I constantly cocked up.

White Faced Heron

My transport for getting around the North Island was a 4 litre 4x4, a bit of a gas guzzler but a pleasure to drive, trips out with the family and birding excursions became even more enjoyable driving this beast.

One of the 1st birds I noticed, naturally looking up for raptors on the trip was Australasian Harrier, they are a widespread abundant native species that also soars looking for prey or carrion. They reminded me of Common Buzzards when you drive down to Cornwall, our equivalent would be Marsh Harrier. The only other bird of prey, there are only 2 species that are native, was New Zealand Falcon, I got a brief view of one at distance and that was the only sighting.

One species that seemed to be everywhere was Pukeko, very similar to Purple Gallinules, we even had one in my daughters and son in laws garden.

Whilst I was there I decided to go out on a pelagic, a little expensive but well worth it just to see the Ocean, we were heading out to the Hauraki Gulf, hopefully for Whale sightings.

White Fronted Tern

Red Billed Gull
Soon, as we cleared land a few miles out I started to pick up sea birds, firstly, Terns and then Blue Penguins which the skipper identified and as we got even further out, and then Shearwaters and Petrels. The further we went out, more and more appeared, it was quite apparent that I was seeing 3 or 4 Shearwater/Petrel species, identifying them was another matter. Decided to photograph anything with a set of wings and then try to id it later, just wanted to enjoy being out there and take it all in.

Black or Parkinson's Petrel

Flesh Footed Shearwater

Dolphin pods had now joined the Catamaran and at one point there must have been close to 50 near the ship with at least 4 constantly ‘ riding’ the bow wave, if I remember correctly, they were called Striped Dolphins. After an hour we caught up with a Whale, it was identified as a Brydes Whale and was around 30 metres long. What was quite strange to me was the fact that we were miles out, could not see land, and there were Blue Penguins popping up every now and then, very hard to photograph as we were moving at speed.

Brydes Whale
The one species that I had hoped to see never materialized, an Albatross or a Mollymawk, there is a good number of both species around New Zealand, unfortunately for me, many were congregated around the South Islands .Next visit, I will go there.

Summing up, a very enjoyable visit made even more special by giving my daughter away, and the reception we received from Shaun and his family.

Auckland and the Tower
It has only taken me 3 years to get all the photo’s together, some of which I have placed in the Gallery. Thanks go to Graham Ekins for identifying the Shearwaters/Petrels, if you want to see great photo’s, have a look at the link below.


  1. Good picture of the Red billed gull

  2. Better late than never Mo only took you 3 years!!!! lol