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From: "John Penhallurick" <>
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Subject: Terrific private trip to New Zealand
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2004 22:53:31 +1000
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Hi all,
I got back last night from 16 days in New Zealand.  My target list =
consisted of 38 main island endemics.
I ended up with 38; not all 38 that I had aimed for (I missed =
Orange-fronted Parakeet. I now realise that that was a pipie dream, 
even =
though I was in the best location).  But I picked up one endemic (King =
Cormorant/Shag) that I had not expected to see.
I did over 5000 km (that includes two days on Kapiti Island when I did =
not drive!). I had very valuable assistance from Sav Saville of of =
Wrybill Birding Tours  and paid him for his =
With the exception of Grey Warbler, Tui, Bellbird and New Zealand =
Pigeon, all the endemics tend to be at least rare and local.
Key birds with precise locations:
on Kapiti I (contact  Note that Kapiti Lodge is 
on Private Land.  To go to the DOC reserve, which covers the majority 
of =
the island, you need to apply for a permit (NZ$9) to 
You can only enter by boat.)
Red-billed Gull Larus scopulinus  (Common)
Spotted Cormorant Phalacrocorax punctatus
Kaka Nestor meridionalis (common around the lodge, and will steal your =
food if you eat outside)
Weka Gallirallus australis common around lodge
Red-fronted Parakeet Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae common around lodge
Variable Oystercatcher Haematopus unicolor
Whitehead Mohuoa albicilla common on Kapiti and also at certain sites 
on =
New Zealand Robin Petroica australis (North Island race. I believe the =
OSNZ is going to split the North and South Island forms in its next =
Takahe Porphyrio mantelli (common around the lodge, whose lawn is the =
overlap between a pair to the north and a family group of 5 to the 
west. =
  Frequent fights between males in the two groups)
Little Spotted Kiwi Apteryx owenii There are over 1000 on Kapiti, but =
not a gimme.  The second night there, we had strong winds and rain and =
they didn't call at all.
Brown Teal Anas chlorotis There is a small population on the creek near 
the lodge.
New Zealand Pipit Anthus novaeseelandiae
Tomtit Petroica macrocephala North Island race.  I believe the OSNZ is =
going to split the North and South Island forms in its next checklist)

On the Wilkinson Track on the Reserve proper (note you must have a =
permit. You can only enter by boat about 9.30 am and you must leave =
around 4pm so no chance of Brown Kiwi)
12 Saddleback Philesturnus caruncalatus 6 on the lower part of the 
track =
and 6 along the track along the coast back to the lodge.
3 Stitchbird Notiomystis cincta 2 males and I female. Seen only at a =
feeding station maintained by DOC about 3/4 of the way up the Wilkinson 

I missed Kokako on Kapiti. In the breeding season they move to the =
southern part of the island, accessible only via the Trig Track, which =
was closed when I was there because a terrific storm had felled many =
trees and washed away parts of the track.
Note most of these birds acan also be seen on Tititiri Matangi.

I headed North to the Ruatiti Domain, the most reliable spot for Blue =
Duck Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos.
on Route 4, about 4 km north of Raetihi (or 4 Km south of Tohunga =
Junction, turn west at the sign for Ohura Road signed to Ruatiti 
Domain. =
  Start looking down on the rocks in the river after about 17 km

1 New Zealand Falcon Falco novaeseelandiae on the road from Waioru to =
Ohakune (route 49) . Note that the NZ Falcon is very rare on the North =
Island, and more common on the South Island.  I saw another south of =
Dargaville east of Ruawai while returning from Dargaville

New Zealand Grebe Poliocephalus rufopectus at Tokaanu launching ramp at 
the sound end of Lake Taupo
also there New Zealand Scaup Aythya novaeseelandiae.

On route 1 7 km north of Taurangi, turn left into Frethy Drive for =
Fernbird Megalurus punctatus

At Miranda east of Auckland on the Firth of Thames
2 Red-breasted Plover Charadrius obscurus
140 Wrybill Anarhynchus frontalis Not a lifer for me but about half the 
world population!
20 South Island Oystercatcher Haematopus finschi

 From Sandspit east of Warkworth I took a water taxi to Beehive Rock =
(cost NZ$50) and saw 1 male Shore Plover Thinornis novaeseelandiae on =
Beehive Rock.Note that because of the rocks around Beehive, the water =
taxi cannot get too close; and as the Shore Plover seems to send a lot =
of time down among the rocks and out of sight, it would be a good idea =
to take a dinghy with you so that you could get to the rock.

Brown Kiwi Apteryx australis North island race at Trounson State Park =
north of Dargaville.  the Kiwi spotting trours are run by the manager 
of =
the Kauri Coast Top 10 Caravan Park (09 439 0621). He charges $15 and =
normally requires two people.
He told me he sees Kiwi on 50% of his trips (not the 80% mentioned in =
Chambers book. More of this book later!)
I was very lucky in that as soon as we entered the park, we found a 
male =
Kiwi feeing quietly on a grassy lawn.  Use a red filter on your torch 
as =
it upsets the kiwis less.

Then to Pureora. The best place to see Kokako Callaeas cinerea (part =
from Tiritiri) is Mapara Reserve. Go south from Te Kuiti on 3 and after 
11 km turn south on 4. After 16 km, turn east on Kopaki Road and then =
right (=3D south) on Mapara Road South. Keep going until you see the =
sign for the Reserve with a footbridge over the river nearby.  I saw =
three birds at the pint where the trail becomes a loop at the top of 
the =
first ridge.The birds responded well to calls.

At Pureora Forest I had my first Yellow-fronted Parakeet Cyanoramphus =
auriceps, and poor views of Rifleman Acanthasitta chloris(north island =

I had incredible luck on the ferry from Wellington to Picton.  Normally 
to see King Cormorant Phalacrocorax carunculatus you need to take a 
trip =
up to the northern end of Queen Charlotte Sound, but the tour boats 
were =
not running yet.
I had a definite King Cormorant at East Head.

On route 63 in a paddock about 10 km before St Arnaud I had my first =
Black-fronted Terns Chlidonias albostriatus (together with about 20 =
Double-banded Plover Charadrius bicinctus, which of course was not a =

Heavy rain set in that afternoon and wrecked birding.  The next day I =
visited Lake Kanieri near Hokitika and had 6 Brown Creeper Mohua =
novaeseelandiae on the track to the Lake.   

Then I drove back over Arthur's Pass to the Hawdon Valley in search of =
the elusive Orange-fronted (or Malherbe's) Parakeet.  This is a tough =
trail.  Very wet, often close to a very noisy river.  I neither saw nor 
heard any parrots at all, but I did get my first South Island NZ Robins 
and South Island Tomtits, likely splits.
While driving back down past the pass, I saw my one and only Kea Nestor 
notabilis for the trip . I think they are breeding at this time, and =
missing from their usual haunts.

Then a major disappointment.  The day was fine, so I went to 
Scotchman's =
Creek (The sign the other way reads "Scotsman's Creek").  That wretched 
book by Chambers states that the Westland Petrels Procellaria =
westlandica fly ashore at 5pm.  So I got there at 4.50 and waited...and 
waited...and waited.  Since I wanted to get up to Bullock Creek for the 
Great Spotted Kiwi Apteryx haasti, I left at about 6.30.

At Bullock Creek, over 3 hours I heard 7 GSK calls, none of them =
near.The NZ race of Southern Boobook were calling all over the place, =
and I had good views of them. So GSK remains a Heard Only bird.

The next morning, I finally had the opportunity to talk to someone who =
knew something about the Westland Petrels. Oh no! he said. The petrels =
come ashore at dusk, not 5pm. They raft offshore then fly in just where 
you were.  If I had been able to get down to the shore I would have 
seen =
the rafts, but this was impossible. So, cursing Chambers, I headed =
I stopped at Munro's Beach just north of Haast, and managed good views =
and photos of 4 Fiorldland Crested Penguins Eudyptes pachyrhynchus. A =
warning. The beach is rotten with sandflies. Take lots of repellent!

Next day I stopped at Haast Pass, and walked the Bridle Trail (marked 
on =
the sign as Bridal Trail, but I didn't see any brides!).which I was 
told =
was the most reliable place in NZ for Yellowhead. No luck, though I did 
get nice views of South Island Rifleman.
So I did a detour to Glenorchy.  The wretched Chambers says that Rock =
Wren (the NZ name for South Island Wren Xenicus gilviventris) can be =
found in  the "rock gardens" just over the river, and I was advised to =
dry the start of the Routeburn Track.
I later talked to two local birders, who said they had only ever found =
the South Island Wren near a hut half a day's walk up the Routeburn =
Track.  Like so much in Chambers bloody guide, almost everything he 
says =
about the South Island Wren is pure fantasy- absolute bullshit!
They did advise me to try the track at Lake Sylvan for Yellowhead, and =
after an hour's walking I had 4 birds who responded great to the calls.
Also in the paddocks on the way to Lake Sylvan, I saw 100 plus =
Black-billed Gull Larus bulleri.

So on to Twizel for the Black Stilt Himantopus novaezelandiae. To cut a 
long story short, I was eventually advised to try the north shore of =
Lake Pukaki (the turnoff is about 500m north of Glentanner).  There I =
found 7 adult stilts and 7 juveniles, more than 10% of the world's 
total =
population.  I gave fervent thanks to Orni!

Then on to Oamaru, where I found 4 Stewart Island Cormorants, 2 of the =
pied phase and 2 of the bronze phase on the twon's breakwaters, along =
with about 200 Spotted Cormorants. Then to Bushy Beach for Yellow-eyed =
Penguin Megadyptes antipodes, of which I saw 4 Orni again shone her =
favour on me. A Westland petrel flew by about 40 m offshore, then flew =
back again, and then flew by a third time, giving me wonderful scope =

My final day in Dunedin was a total disaster. By the time I reached =
Taiaroa Head, a 90 knot gale was blowing with driving rain and sleet. I 
was almost blown clear off the head.  And I was told: Sorry! you can't =
go out to the hide.  It was closed on Sept 16 (this was Sept 18!).  So 
I =
could only watch 2 chicks of the sanfordi race of Royal Albatross =
Diomedea epomophora via live closed circuit TV.

The final lifer was introduced Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret. It is =
supposedly common in the South island, but as it occurs in open country 
which I was trversing at 100 Kph, iyt wasn't easy to see. I did finally 
have good views of both males and females.

Some final thoughts. If you want to bird NZ on your own, I advise you 
to =
buy CDs of bird calls from
There is a 7 CD set. You probably should by 1 (for the Kiwis and 6 and =
7).  They may take a while for delivery as they don't appear to have 
the =
CDs in stock so order early!
You will not be allowed to play Kiwi calls in places like Kapiti and =
Trounson. But you can play GSK at Bullock's Creek and believe me you'll 
need it!

Finally to Chamber's Birds of New Zealand: a Locality guide. Use this =
book with great care.  There is some good data there.  But much of the =
information is wrong, outdated or plain fantasy. For example, 
everything =
that he says about South Island Wren  apart from Homer Tunnel is pure =
fantasy.  Most of his sites for brown Kiwi are worthless, as are most 
of =
his sites for Blue Duck.  He lists Trounson Park for Kokako, but there =
have been no Kokako there for some 8 years.  And he does not mention =
Mapura at all.
I hope you find this both interesting and useful.
Best wishes,
John Penhallurick
John Penhallurick
Home: 86 Bingley Cres,FRASER,A.C.T. 2615,AUSTRALIA
Phone: (61 2) 62585428
Mobile: 0408 585 428
Mail:P.O.Box 3469,BMDC,BELCONNEN, A.C.T. 2617
Please visit my website at:

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