|Birders at Mangarakau Swamp|
Due to New Zealand's approximately 80 million years of isolation, our bird life evolved differently to that of other continents. We had a large array of flightless birds. The weird and wonderful - as we like to put it - prehistoric birds in historic times! It was a treasure trove of surprises for the early ornithologists.
We have lost a number of species among these fascinating birds, but many are still here, and Kahurangi Park has many species from the more common of our birds, as well as some which are rare and endangered.
For those interested in New Zealand's bird life, the 'Birders Special' is the ultimate trip for you.
This is a 7-day trip in which we cover every bird habitat you can imagine: from alpine, sub-alpine, montane and lowland forest, to wetlands and sandspit.
|Perky South Island Robins are frequently seen on tracks in the bush|
Duration: 7 days
Accommodation: Comfort - cottage or cabin is on a double or shared basis. Clients are asked to bring a sleeping bag, towel, and personal items.
Fitness level: Easy
Price: $1,995 per person
|Kea on Mt Arthur|
Drive to the Flora car park at 945 metres. From here we walk up to the Mt Arthur hut at the bushline, one and a half to 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, it is an hour's drive to a secluded private cabin (Nick's Cabin), situated on the fringe of the park high on the slopes of Mount Campbell. Once again, we will enjoy magnificent views over Tasman Bay. The cabin has solar lighting and gas shower facilities, not to mention the local Kea (mountain parrot) who love to check out the visitors and the curious weka! To watch these clever and endearing birds is a real treat.
Some of the birds that may be seen today are Kea, Kaka, Fantail, South Island Robin, Bellbird, Rifleman, Kakariki and many more.
|A tiny tomtit|
We walk through a lovely beech forest to the open alpine 'tops' of Mount Campbell. This is the northern most end of Kahurangi National Park. From here the day is yours! We will walk as far as the group would like, taking in the 360-degree vistas throughout the day. Returning once again to Nick's Cabin.
Bird sightings may include Falcon, Kea, Bellbird, Kakariki, Robin, Tomtit, Weka and many more.
|A Tui feeding on flax flowers in the Cobb Valley|
We leave Nick's Cabin and 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 exclusive cottage accommodation beside a reservoir in the Cobb Valley, which sits at approximately 1,000 metres. (See further information on the 'Cobb Comfort' trip). This cottage has electricity and shower facilities. We will spend 2 nights here, and on the spare day we will choose from a variety of walks, whether it be along the glacial valley floor or to alpine lakes.
Bird sightings may include Kea, Kaka, Robin, Bellbird, Tomtit and many more.
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, Scoup, Spoonbill and many more. The sound of the elusive Bittern may be heard booming after dark.
|On Knuckle Hill, with a splendid view of Westhaven Inlet|
From the lodge there are several options for our free day, including a tidal walk, a walk around the swamp area, or a climb of 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 leave for the drive back to Motueka, but en route 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.
After your day on the spit, we will head back over the Takaka Hill and back to your accommodation in Motueka.
Note: The Farewell Nature Tour may take place on days five, six or seven, as it is tide dependent.
"My goals: Get more informed about New Zealand birds and tramp in new terrain. Goals met, plus excellent company, outstanding and varied country, unbelievable tramping huts. Hot showers, fine meals....! As well: Fine conservationists spreading the word.
Nola Burrell - New Zealand
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