New Zealand’s bird life is unique and diverse, thanks to its 80 million year isolation from other landmasses. Many of its birds lost the ability to fly and became adapted to different habitats and niches. Some of these flightless birds are ancient and bizarre, like relics from a prehistoric era. They fascinated the first birdwatchers who studied them and discovered their secrets. Unfortunately, many of these birds have gone extinct, but others still survive and can be found in Kahurangi Park. This park is home to many common and rare birds that represent New Zealand’s avian heritage.
This is a 6-day trip in which we cover every bird habitat you can imagine: from alpine, sub-alpine, montane and lowland forest, to wetlands and sandspit.
Drive to the Flora car park at 945 metres. From here we walk up to the Mt Arthur hut at the bush-line, two hours on a well-graded track. Above the bush you are awarded magnificent views over Tasman Bay and the interior of Kahurangi. On the way, you will be shown the ‘Friends of Flora’ conservation trapping programme, which was initiated by Bush & Beyond original owners, Bill and Maryann to save the endangered Blue Duck (Whio). On returning to the car park we will have a scenic drive over the Takaka Hill, known locally as ‘marble mountain’. It features fantastic outcrops of weather-worn karst limestone and marble formations. We then drive up to our accommodation beside a reservoir in the Cobb Valley where we will stay overnight. Some of the birds that may be seen today are Kea, Kaka, Fantail, South Island Robin, Bellbird, Rifleman, Kakariki and many more.
In the morning your guide will advise you as to which day hike you will be taking (see further information on the “Cobb Comfort” trip. There are several options to choose from depending on your fitness and interests.
Today we will select another walk whether it be along the glacial valley floor or to alpine lakes. At the end of the day we will transfer through to the Collingwood area to overnight. Bird sightings may include Kea, Kaka, Robin, Bellbird, Tomtit and many more.
This morning we call in at Farewell Spit where the Original Farewell Spit Nature Tours will be waiting to take you on a birding trip out on to the sandspit. Experience the changing land and seascapes and skies as you journey with them. The owner of the Original Farewell Spit Safari, Paddy Gillooly, has a family history as old as the local settlement of Collingwood. His family set up the tours in 1946. You will be taken out to the now automated lighthouse on the spit, with birding interpretations along the way. We transfer to Westhaven Inlet on the West Coast. This large tidal estuary and nearby protected freshwater wetland is a haven for many bird species. We will stay in cottage style accommodation for two nights. Bird sightings may include Fernbird, Bellbird, Grey Duck, Scaup, Spoonbill and many more. The sound of the elusive Bittern may be heard booming after dark.
Drive back down to the lowlands and the Takaka Valley and on to Westhaven Inlet on the West Coast. This large tidal estuary and nearby protected freshwater wetland is a haven for many bird species. We will stay in cottage style accommodation for two nights. Bird sightings may include Fernbird, Bellbird, Grey Duck, Scaup, Spoonbill and many more. The sound of the elusive Bittern may be heard booming after dark.
From the lodge there are several options for our free day, including a tidal walk, a walk around the swamp area, or a climb up Knuckle Hill. From here you have amazing vistas of Westhaven Inlet and Farewell Spit, the longest natural sandbar in the world, in the distance. Bird sightings may include all of the above and also Cormorants (known locally as Shags) and gulls. We will return to Motueka or Nelson at approximately 4pm to 5pm and take you to your accommodation.