Trip to New Zealand North Island ? 4 to 22 December 2009
On 4/12/09 Janet and I flew into Auckland just before midnight. We then
toured the North Island in a hire car, returning to Melbourne from Auckland
on 22/12/09. We had toured the South Island in 12/08 so birding was
generally concentrated on the North Island Species and the few possibles
that we had dipped on last year.
We looked around Auckland on 5/12. This was the only place I saw SPOTTED DOVE.
On 6/12 I took the ferry to Tiri Tiri Matangi Island where I was lucky to
see the usual suspects, including 1 KOKAKO, 1 TAKAHE, 2 BROWN TEAL, 2 BROWN
QUAIL, and many WHITEHEAD, STITCHBIRD AND RED-CROWNED PARAKEET. The best
birding was on Kawerau Track. The Takahe & Brown Teal were so tame that I
considered them ?untickable?, fortunately I saw ?wilder? ones elsewhere
later on. Meanwhile Janet took a ferry for a wine tour of Waiheke Island.
After the ferries returned, we drove to Waiwera for the night, where
DABCHICK were on Straka?s Pond (on Waiwera Rd, 2km west of Waiwera) and NZ
DOTTEREL were on the beach.
We stayed on Aroha Island on 7&8/12. This was a very relaxing spot where
birds seen included BROWN KIWI (on the 2nd night only), REEF HERON, BANDED
RAIL & NZ PIPIT.
On 13/12 I saw my only TOMTIT for the trip, on the track to the Dome
Lookout. I then walked the Ecology Track at Tawharanui Regional Park where
many good species were seen including BROWN TEAL, WHITEHEAD, NZ ROBIN, NZ
DOTTEREL, and great daytime views of a MOREPORK. Details re this park are
in the BirdingNZ archives. We stayed overnight at Sandspit.
Next was Miranda for 2 nights. Here I saw many waders, including 1
HUDSONIAN GODWIT, 1 PECTORAL SANDPIPER, 25 PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER, 2
RED-NECKED STINT, 1 LITTLE TERN, 10+ SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER, a few CURLEW
SANDPIPER, 1 BANDED RAIL, many WRYBILL, and 1000?s of BAR-TAILED GODWIT and
On 12/12 I was one of 5 on a pelagic out of Whitianga to Red Mercury Island
which was organized by Rob Morris. We made positive ID?s of COOK?S and
PYCROFT?S PETRELS. BLACK PETREL was also new for me. Other sightings
included BULLERS, FLESH-FOOTED AND FLUTTERING SHEARWATERS, ARCTIC SKUA,
FAIRY PRION, GREY-FACED PETREL and 100?s of WHITE-FACED STORM PETREL.
Unfortunately NZ Storm Petrel was not seen. (I had tried to book on the
5/12 Hauraki Gulf Pelagic but this was cancelled due to lack of numbers,
and the 19/12 trip was booked out.) While in the lee of Red Mercury Island
I saw Red-crowned Parakeet and Kingfisher, and heard Stitchbird, Shining
Cuckoo and Tui.
On 13/12 we drove from Whitianga to Wanganui. In transit we saw FERNBIRD on
Old Wharf Road at Tokaanu, and BLUE DUCK at Ruatiti, (at least 3 on the
river 4km before the bridge and another pair at the bridge). The Blue Duck
was the tick of the trip for me as it had eluded me on the South Island,
despite a concentrated search.
On 14/12 I saw ROYAL SPOONBILL at Waikanae Estuary on the way to Wellington
where we spent 2 nights.
We visited the central area of Kapiti Island from 10am to 3 pm on 16/12
where the birding was good, with sightings of 2 TAKAHE, 2 STITCHBIRD, some
KAKA and RED-CROWNED PARAKEET and many WEKA, WHITEHEAD AND SADDLEBACK.
Kokako and Long-tailed Cuckoo were only heard. We then took the ferry to
the north end of Kapiti to stay overnight. Here LITTLE SPOTTED KIWI was
seen at 1am with the expert guide (Weka, Takahe , Pukeko and Morepork all
make sounds similar to the Kiwi call). BROWN TEAL and BLUE PENGUIN were
also seen whilst spot-lighting. Other birds seen at the north end included
LONG-TAILED CUCKOO, NZ PIPIT and TAKAHE (3 adults and 2 chicks).
On 17/12 the main emphasis of the trip changed to wineries, spending 2
nights in Martinborough and 2 nights in Napier- excellent Bordeaux style
wines. However I saw 2 BANDED DOTTEREL (but no Shore Plover) at Waikanae
On 19/12 I saw BLACK-FRONTED DOTTEREL and MUTE SWAN at the Te Whiti
Sewerage Ponds 5km east of Masterton.
It seems that Rook have been eradicated from around Napier, I did not see
any and, of the several locals that I spoke to, only one remembered seeing
them as a child.
Trip planning was based on information gleaned from the archives of
Birding-aus and Birding-NZ.
Birding in NZ is quite challenging. The density and spread of introduced
birds has to be seen to be believed. Some of the NZ endemics are basically
untickable in the wild (e.g. Hasst Kiwi, Takahe, Kakapo), and many others
are hard to find.
We found touring NZ to be just as easy as travelling in Australia, but
reference to a travel-time chart is recommended. We hired a CRV 4WD and
were glad to have the extra comfort and ground clearance. Our trip was well
paced, with time to take in the awesome scenery. We were however fortunate
not to strike any bad weather. December is a good time, before the main
tourist period and prebooking accomodation is not essential.
My NZ bird list (including the Subantarctic Islands) now stands at 153 plus
17 additional subspecies.
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