Friday, 15 December 2017

New Zealand Part 3 - Franz Josef

We left Rotorua, drove back to Auckland (after some shenanigans) and flew down to Christchurch were we stopped overnight before boarding the Trans-alpine Train up to Arthur's Pass. The scenery between Christchurch and Arthur's Pass was just breath taking, and as we were to find out, so is the whole of the South Island.

From the train there was hardly any wildlife to see, so I will start this post with the scenery:
The first part of the journey was through the Canterbury Plains, with the Alps getting closer and closer,

 until we started to climb into the mountains and travel through alpine valleys,
 I took loads of photos so it's difficult to choose what to include in this post


 








We did see some Harriers and Kestrel from the train but photographing them was impossible!

Franz Josef was just brilliant, we could have stayed much longer, we really loved it!
The Franz Josef Glacier viewed from the Rain Forest!

 The Glacier from the Helicopter as we approached,
 with lots to see on the way up.
 Walking up is treacherous, there are so many crevasses.
 So the best way.........

 We flew over from the Franz Josef Glacier to the Fox Glacier, but we didn't see any mints!
 Sorry about that (it was a joke our daughter made when we told her we had flown over Fox Glacier!) it hadn't crossed our minds! (This may be a UK only joke)

What about birds, well no photographs but we did see Tui, NZ Bellbird, Tomtit, NZ Robin, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Pacific Black Duck, and our first Kea sitting on a roof opposite the restaurant where we were having dinner (Posh eh!) Sadly no camera.

The one thing in New Zealand that is weird is the abundance of UK birds, throughout our stay in New Zealand we were to see; Blackbird, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Starling, Greylag Goose, Goldfinch, Mallard, Skylark, Dunnock, Mealy Redpoll and House Sparrow.

Allegedly these birds and others were brought in by the early settlers to make it feel (and sound!) more like home.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

New Zealand Part 2 - Rotorua

It was a long drive down from the Bay of Islands to Rotorua, but what an amazing place, didn't know what to expect, but the clouds of steam and smell of sulphur were all around town.

Even some Swamphen about in town!

The main focus in Rotorua is the Guysers and Thermal Springs and that was just fantatstic,








Unfortunately after visiting the springs the weather turned somewhat foul, so we holed up in our hotel and relaxed for a bit. Anyway, our holiday was now 5 weeks in and we needed to put our feet up a bit.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

New Zealand Part 1 - Bay of Islands

We started the New Zealand leg of our trip by flying in to Auckland from Sydney. Not much to say about Auckland! It's a city, plus the weather wasn't great, but it does have a bridge!
and a Sky Tower,
that gives some nice views.
From Auckland we travelled north to the Bay of Islands, staying in a lovely town called Paihia. We stopped to look at possibly the oldest tree in New Zealand circa 2000 years old, it's been named Tane Mahuta, I won't go into the legend that goes with it, its's quite lengthy, but you could always google it!
 One of the marvellous ferns found in the forest around where the tree grows.

The following day we went on a boat trip around the Islands, we were in fact extremely lucky! Our boat broke down before we could get on it. Believe it or not for us it was a great bonus. The tour we were booked on did a tour of the islands, with a stop at a couple of them to go for a walk then back to Paihia. There was another boat departing at the same time that had spare capacity, this was a tour of the islands with Dolphin watching, much more our cup of tea (or should that be coffee?!)
Departing Paihia,
 Some Pied Cormorant,
 Australasian Gannet.

So a few birds about as we cruised out, but then came the highlight a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins,
I took tons of photos, so hard to decide what to put on the blog!










The boat we were on is the only boat licensed to interact with the Dolphins, so if we had been on the other boat it would have just sailed on past the pod, as I said our luck was in that day.

The rest of the trip was mostly scenic until we reached the hole in the rock, when despite a bit of a swell the skipper managed to back us in, she was brilliant her dolphin knowledge was excellent and pretty good at driving a boat too!
The hole from a distance, the sea looks quite calm, but looks are deceiving!
 Little Black Cormorant,
 Getting closer!
 I think a Buller's Shearwater, getting a photo was difficult at the time as the boat was pitching about a bit and trying to get focus was nigh on impossible.

From the 'Hole' we cruised back, stopping at a little town called Russell where we decided to get off and later catch the ferry back to Paihia.
Russell Beach,
 Red-billed Gull
 and some interesting signage!


Next day we went for a walk along the coast up to and past the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, another subject worth googling!
As we left the hotel a New Zealand Pigeon put in a short appearance, wrong lens unfortunately!

Our walk was brilliant, saw loads...
White-faced Heron,
 New Zealand (Sacred) Kingfisher,
 Red-billed Gull,
 Kelp Gull,
 Variable Oystercatcher,

 Californian Quail,
 Heinz 57 Ducks (Mallard),
 Song Thrush,
 Red-billed Gull,
  New Zealand (Sacred) Kingfisher,
 New Zealand Grey Fantail,
 Tui,

 Caspian Tern,
 Common Myna

Quite a few birds I didn't get photos of;
Welcome Swallow, Silvereye, Blackbird, Starling, Pied Cormorant, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch.