Stewart Island News - March 2017
We had a unique Christmas Eve in 2016. Lindy and I went on the 'Wild Kiwi Encounter" experience.
What a great 5 hours from 8pm to 1am.
We started with a short but very informative presentation on the Rakiura Toekoeka (translation - Weka with a walking stick) then onto Real Journeys Foveaux Express with a dozen other people. Spent an hour and a half about 6 k offshore at Flat Rock, Bench Island, and Whero where we saw: Rafts of titi, dolphin,blue penguin, Albatros,yellow eyed penguin, skua, fur seals, Foveaux Shags, all with a knowledgeable commentary, and from the comfort of the well appointed catarmaran.
From there we cruised into Patterson Inlet past the Neck "Oneki" and Ulva Island and up to the Bravo Islands, all with a well delivered and non intrusive commentary. By about 9.45 we were at Little Glory wharf and given a briefing on the etiquette of moving in a group, keeping quiet and use of the torches we were supplied, safety, (especially if we encountered sea lion in the bush or beach), what to do in an emergency. Then we were off to find Kiwi. Saw the first up close and personal 5 minutes along the extremely well cut, dry easy walking track. After 10 minutes or so after all of the party of 13 had a good look, we moved on to Ocean Beach, about 20 minutes walk through the bush. We walked the beach along the waters edge with torches off ( amazing how light it is even on a cloudy night) as our guide scanned the beach and bush line for more Kiwi. We left the beach which was almost devoid of kelp ( Kiwi eat the sand hoppers that live under the beached kelp) and entered true bush on a short track to another beach. Second Kiwi encounter right on the track, this time as we all stood silently in the dark, this Kiwi walked right along past us all about a metre away, stopping to peck at our guide's boots, and then wandered off into the bush, all the time probing the ground and searching for food with its beak. We walked through to another beach on the inlet side, but cold and exposed, so retreated back down the track towards Ocean beach again- third Kiwi encounter about 5 minutes along the track. Again we all stopped and had a good look in the light of the guide's torch then headed back onto Ocean Beach and onto the track back to the waiting boat. I was at the head of the group with the guide at this stage, and as we neared the wharf , we had a 4th brief encounter but only the guide and I saw this one as it was off the track a bit and heading away from us.
Also saw 5 possums on the track, and a program to begin regular control of these pests will be starting as soon as the new humane self setting traps arrive.
All in all, a very well organised and presented experience, with our crew Glenda, Ian and 'Percy' which delivered all I expected and more.
I am a fifth generation Stewart Islander, and this night was a highlight in my 60 odd years of connection with my homeland.
To all who haven't had this experience, do it! To those who I have spoken to who had doubts or misgivings about this operation, hold your tongues until you have been on this particular version of Kiwi connection. Thank you Phillip Smith for the treasure you built up over the past 26 years. This is an experience worthy of being proud of, and the land, the track , the Kiwis and the tourists are in good hands!
Rakiura Maori Lands Trust