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The traveling Najade is traveling II

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Najade, 16 Oct 2017.

  1. Najade

    Najade Well-Known Member

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    It's not that I didn't like them, it's just that they are some rocks on the road side that hardly warrant any larger amount of attention.[​IMG]
     
  2. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I can't agree with that. Whilst not unique to Moeraki (or New Zealand) they are amongst the largest examples of septarian concretions in the world, and are fascinating geologically as well as having an interesting cultural backstory (in terms of how the Maori explained their presence).

    If you'd used an example like some random place where a scene from Lord of the Rings was filmed I'd have agreed with you, but for actual interesting natural phenomena not so much.

    Did you go see the petrified forest at Curio Bay?
     
  3. Najade

    Najade Well-Known Member

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    Botanic Gardens
    There were three rows of aviaries there. The list already has the species in order and again I'll put up pictures when we get a gallery for it. The aviaries are pretty high and large. With the big mixed ones it was hard to tell if the signage matched the inhabitants and I'm pretty sure at least some of them didn't.

    Animals seen:
    (s. species list)


    Ross Creek Reservoir
    Went there to have another try for Rifleman and didn't find any aka "I went to C and couldn't find the animals."

    Animals not seen:
    Rifleman


    About half an hour out of Oamaru I saw a sign for the Moeraki Boulders so I pulled over and had a quick look at them. It's a few small-ish round stones on a beach.
    The day ended with another sleep in the car.

    Next up:
    Oamaru
     
  4. Najade

    Najade Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I saw the Petrified Forest. My advice on that would be the same as for the boulders: if you're a geologist or you happen to be there anyway by all means take a look. If not: don't spend time and money to specifically go there...

    Even if you don't agree on the example I think the overall point is still clear. And I'd argue that most people would actually have more of a connection to the Lord of the Rings places than any sort of geology stuff. So it would actually make more sense for them to go there. In the same way that I don't understand people looking at churches while on vacation when they have absolutely nothing to do with Christianity, architecture, etc. in the rest of their lives. But that's a different argument:D
     
  5. Najade

    Najade Well-Known Member

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    Day 5

    As this was a non-wildlife day I'll go through it quickly. I'd originally planned to travel onwards to Wanaka to meet up with some friends, but things changed and instead I headed up to Christchurch, which is about a 3,5 hour drive. I called the Jucy hotline to book me into their hostel for the night (the one I got for free with the rental) somewhat last minute but that was no problem.

    Oamaru

    I'd found another deal on bookme for the Steampunk HQ ($4,50). It doesn't really have anything to do with Steampunk, in that there's nothing there powered by steam and a lot of electric gadgets. Another thing where the ads don't match reality. They have a few metal-statues and a fun light and sound show in a room with mirrored walls (which was the best part), but other than that most of it is literally scrap metal and garbage lying about. Nonetheless I enjoyed it.
    Afterwards I had a look around town and found a small market, before heading off.


    Christchurch

    Canterbury Museum was my first stop. I was only there for about an 1,5 hours, because the parking meter would not let me insert more than three coins. I would have liked to stay longer as this was my favourite museum in NZ so far, having the most comprehensive and well ordered zoology section. After that I passed by Christchurch Cathedral and saw the earthquake damage in the area, before heading to the hostel to finally have a shower and a proper bed for once. I also did some laundry to get the gull droppings of my clothes and tried to get my camera to recharge which for some miraculous reason actually worked.:)

    I then called up Encounter Kaikoura to see if they had any Albatross tour on over the next couple of days (as of course they hadn't managed to get back to me, after extensive email correspondence before the trip). There was a trip scheduled for two days later so I booked that and booked a whale-watch flight with Air Kaikoura for the next day.

    Next up:
    Kaikoura
     
  6. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I know what you mean in general terms - I constantly rail against tourists blindly following the instructions in their Lonely Planets. But I still am not going to agree with you over geological formations. That's really on your head, because if you're not interested in geology then you can't complain about what they are when you go to look them.
     
  7. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    This is a good museum. It's the one I grew up with though so I don't appreciate it as much as the ones I visit less frequently. The zoology section used to be much much larger about twenty to thirty years ago, but it got cut down to basically just native birds.

    My top three museums in the country (in no particular order) are Canterbury, Otago, and Auckland. Te Papa is pretty useless - the old Wellington museum was far superior.

    The Canterbury Museum is actually several different buildings, but when you're inside it appears to be just one. At some points you can see the thickness of the interior walls where you are actually going from one building to the next. It stands up to earthquakes well because of this.

    The Botanical Gardens next door are really nice too.
     
  8. gerenuk

    gerenuk Well-Known Member

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    Go into Encounter when you first arrive in town, they have a well-researched brochure regarding places to find birds in the area. Kaikoura is one of the best places in New Zealand to see Rifleman because of the low canopy in the Kanuka bush at the end of Schoolhouse Road. There are no trails, but heaps of flagging left by previous graduate student studies from Canterbury Uni. You will hear the Rifleman before you see them - very distinctive call. Gray Warbler common too.

    I've had heaps of success with Rifleman in Arthurs Pass too.
     
  9. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    This trip took place several weeks ago ... I'm hoping Najade got riflemen at Arthurs Pass though.
     
  10. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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  11. Najade

    Najade Well-Known Member

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    Day 6
    Kaikoura

    Highway 1 was open that day so it took me about three hours to get to Kaikoura. On the way I called the company to make sure everything was going ahead (weather etc.) and made it there just in time.

    Air Kaikoura

    The 40 minute flight was another bookme-deal for $120. I thought Sperm Whales would be better to see from the air, because of their unspectacular surface behaviour. On their website they advertise a 95% success rate seeing whales year-round (same with the boat guys who on their website tell you that "any time is a good time"), but then when I arrived I was told that "well...in October the chances are more like 70% and they move further out this time of year...and we haven't seen one on any of our flights the last few days" and if I still wanted to go ahead? Have I complained about NZ advertising yet? Yes? Good! It would have been nice to be told about this before f.e. on the phone earlier (or have them be more accurate/honest in the first place) but as I was already there and there isn't anything to do in Kaikoura other than the various tour activities I stayed with it (and so did the two others). We didn't see any animals and then spent some time looking at the scenery:(
    Afterwards we were told that if we were to be around longer or were to come back ever we could fly again if there was a free seat available.

    Animals not seen:
    Sperm Whale


    Kaikoura
    I drove to the Albatross Encounter to reconfirm next day's boat trip and was told that yes the other people were still scheduled to come but they couldn't guarantee anything till tomorrow, which is just ridiculous. I mean at some point I have to be able to plan ahead and you can't even give me any sort of security the day before? Dafuq
    I would really like to get more into seabirds but the hassle I've been having with the pelagics (Stewart Island, Kaikoura, Tutukaka) and other related activities (Friends of Mana Island, Seabird Trust) is just really off-putting.

    After, I went to the whale-watch boat guys to see what their success-rate had been over the last couple of days and they told me they hadn't seen any whales either. The next available spot on a tour was on Friday. It was Monday...

    Seal Swim was closed till November.

    Fur Seal Colony

    I went to the Colony down the road with a quick stop to look at the Fyffe House. Saw some Fur Seals and wrestled with a gull for my food and then used the day to plan ahead for the rest of the trip. In the evening I met a french backpacker couple who invited me for some food at their van, before we retired to our cars for the night (I didn't know about the Shearwater breeding site up the hill at the time...)

    Animals seen:
    New Zealand Fur Seal
    Gulls


    Next up:
    Kaikoura - Day 2
     
    Chlidonias likes this.
  12. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    They can't say whether the boat can go out until the day, sometimes even only a few hours before, because they're going to be over a trench in the open ocean off the coast of New Zealand. The conditions literally change hourly. It's the same for all the boats (albatross, whale, dolphin). I think over the course of the year even the whale boats, which are considerably larger than the albatross boats, only make about 50% of their trips due to the ocean conditions (I might be remembering that percentage incorrectly - I heard it some years ago - but it is something quite significant).
     
  13. Najade

    Najade Well-Known Member

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    That wasn't what I was referring to. I have absolutely no problem with them having to cancel for safety reasons. What I meant was that it seems like people can still cancel up to like five minutes before the trip. And that I don't get. If canceling last minute at a hotel they will usually keep a percentage (or all) of the money and I don't see why Encounters can't do the same to ensure that they can guarantee a booking at least a few days ahead.
    Gambling on the ocean conditions is already enough. I don't want to have to gamble on the people too.
     
  14. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh okay, I see. I read it as you were simply told they can't guarantee the boat going out. I don't know how their passenger-cancellation policy works.
     
  15. Najade

    Najade Well-Known Member

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    Day 6
    Kaikoura

    Albatross Encounter

    In the morning I headed to the Encounters office for the 9am 2,5h pelagic and met the others coming on the trip (1 birder + plus two sons). We were driven to the replacement harbour site (the other one was damaged in the earthquake) and made our way out. We found a fishing boat that had a good number of birds around it and stopped for a look. The fisherman was nice enough to throw all his scraps over to our boat. The main body of birds consisted of Gibson's, Northern Giant, Salvin's and White-capped with Cape and Westland hanging about at the edges. We drove to two other spots, but the birds stayed largely the same. (Two Black-browed at the first stop and one or two of both Royals at the later stops.) We then rode on to see both Dusky and Hector's Dolphin as well as a stop closer to shore where we saw Terns and Fur Seals, before going back (saw a lone Short-tailed fly by a bit further out). At the office they handed us a list of the birds we'd seen.

    I'm a bit 50/50 on this trip. On the one hand all the bird stuff that we did do was pretty amazing and the skipper was super knowledgeable and helpful with identification (and I didn't mind the dolphin detour as it saved me the money to go out again with the other tour), but there was also quite a bit that annoyed me mainly in regards to customer service: we only spend about half maybe two thirds of the time birding, no one asked us what our interests, target species, etc. were or what we wanted to see (no one wanted to waste their time on Fur Seals f.e.), we never tried to get close to see the Hutton's which we'd talked about and were promised in the beginning, when talking to the other guy on the boat he told me that he had asked for a 4h tour (same as me) but they never let us know about it and once we were out it was too late. Adding to this all the hassle with the communication and booking before, I just can't recommend it as much as I want to.

    Animals seen:
    Northern Royal Albatross
    Southern Royal Albatross
    Gibson's Albatross
    Black-browed Mollymawk
    White-capped Mollymawk
    Salvin's Mollymawk
    Northern Giant Petrel
    Westland Petrel
    Cape Petrel
    Short-tailed Shearwater
    Hutton's Shearwater
    (far away)
    Dusky Dolphin
    Hector's Dolphin
    New Zealand Fur Seal
    Pied Shag
    White-fronted Tern
    Black-backed Gull
    Black-billed Gull
    Red-billed Gull


    Kaikoura
    Afterwards I phoned Air Kaikoura to see if they had any planes going up that day. They did but didn't want to switch from a three-seater to a five-seater to take me along. But they could offer me a seat the next day. As I didn't see myself returning to Kaikoura anytime soon I rearranged my plans to stay another day.

    While looking around the internet for future activities I found out about the newly constructed fenced-off Hutton's colony above the seal colony. I tried to reach someone from the Hutton's Shearwater Charitable Trust but all my calls and e-mail went unanswered.
    Same with Paparoa Wildlife Trust that I tried to contact about Great Spotted Kiwis.
    E-Ko Tours in Picton also wouldn't answer their phone and Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch did answer but was very evasive in answering my questions.

    Fur Seal Colony

    I spent the rest of the day back at the seal colony. There were large swarms of Hutton's right off the coast but while I got ok-ish looks through my binocular, I never got close enough for a good view because there were too many seals in the way everywhere.
    The evening I spend stood at the Shearwater breeding site up the hill, but none came in.

    Animals seen:
    Hutton's Shearwater
    New Zealand Fur Seal
    Gulls
    Oystercatcher

    Next up:
    Kaikoura - Day 3
     
  16. gerenuk

    gerenuk Well-Known Member

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    Hahaha. How much effort do you make in learning animal behaviour before you go looking for them? I've done heaps of pelagics and never had a shearwater (except for Buller's) come close to a boat. You can't chase species on a pelagic trip, asking for a target list would be setting poor expectations. Most of your frustrations appear to be from a lack of research. I made the same mistake when I did my first foreign birdwatching trip (Fiji) - saw less than half the species I had originally expected.
     
  17. Najade

    Najade Well-Known Member

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    Aehm, ok.
    First of all: I didn't expect the Shearwaters to come to our boat, I expected our boat to try to get close(ish) to them, because we saw large swarms and our skipper told us that that's what we would do.
    Second: I wasn't expecting to go "Show me a Sooty Albatross! Go!", but if we're the only two people on the boat (excluding the kids) and our main interest is tubenoses I don't see how I'm asking for too much if I don't wanna waste my time looking at gulls, terns and fur seals that I can see everywhere on the beach without paying three figures.
     
  18. gerenuk

    gerenuk Well-Known Member

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    Raft. The term for large groups of shearwater on the water is called a raft, not swarm. Having done the Kaikoura pelagic myself, that bit at the end with the fur seals and giant rock is an opportunity to look for reef heron, spotted shag and black-billed gull that can turn up.
     
  19. Najade

    Najade Well-Known Member

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    Anyway...

    Day 7
    Kaikoura

    Air Kaikoura

    As mentioned above I had a flight to catch. We went up in a three-seater (+pilot) again and found a pod of Dusky's right away; then got even luckier and actually got unto a Sperm Whale. The Dolphins aren't really more than specks from that high up but the whale you can see reasonably well (with binos).

    Anyone know how the views compare between going out on a boat vs. plane vs. helicopter?
    (I'd guess if the whale isn't right next to the boat you won't see much (more), but heli would probably give even better views?)

    Animals seen:
    Sperm Whale
    Dusky Dolphins


    Christchurch
    Highway 1 was closed so I had to take the slightly longer inland route back to Christchurch to meet a friend of mine. I made a quick stop on the way in some small town that had free wifi (don't remember the name). In Chch we went for some good, quality Domino's Pizza, reminisced about the good old days and then I had to refuel once more and drive on.

    Arthur's Pass

    It was pretty late when I arrived at Arthur's Pass. I just parked the car on the camping area opposite the information centre, where I was immediately visited by a Kea. Luckily he wasn't in the mood to remodel my car, so I went to sleep.

    Animals seen:
    Kea

    Next up:
    Arthur's Pass
     
  20. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I haven't seen whales from the air, but I'd always imagined it would be somewhat better because you can see the whole animal - although I guess you're going to be quite high up which might negate the advantage. From the boat they are rarely close and just look like a log floating there. The tail coming up as they dive is cool, and in that respect the boat-view is better.

    Sperm Whales are pretty boring as whales go really.