Muriwai‘s gannet colony is a one hour drive from the centre of Auckland. Next to the car park, a short walking track leads to a viewing platform right above the main colony area. Out to sea, the colony continues on two vertical-sided islands. About 1,200 pairs of gannets nest here from August to March each year.
The nests are just centimetres apart. It’s an air traffic controller’s nightmare, but somehow the birds have it under control. Those coming in to land must glide over the squawking raised beaks of their neighbours – so getting it wrong can be painful. These two-and-a-half kilogramme birds have a wingspan of two metres, and their mastery of the onshore updrafts is impressive to say the least.
Each pair lays one egg and the parents take turns on the nest. The chicks hatch naked, but within a week they’re covered with fluffy down. As they mature, they grow juvenile feathers and begin to exercise their wings in preparation for the one-shot jump off the cliff.
Once airborne, the young gannets leave the colony and cross the Tasman Sea to Australia. A few years later, surviving birds return to secure a nest site at the colony.
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds, overlooking the Bay of Islands, is New Zealand’s pre-eminent historic site.
It was here on February 6th, 1840, that the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed between Maori and the British Crown.
The Treaty Grounds are part of the 506 hectare Waitangi National Trust estate, which was gifted to the nation by Lord and Lady Bledisloe in 1932. In the Deed of Gift, Lord Bledisloe stipulated that the estate was never to be a burden on the tax payer, and as such it is not government funded. The estate is administered by the Waitangi National Trust Board, whose members represent various sections of New Zealand people.
Cape Reinga (Te Reinga or Te Rerenga Wairua in Maori) is the northwestern most tip of the Aupouri Peninsula, at the northern end of the North Island of New Zealand. The name of the cape comes from the Maori word ‘Reinga’, meaning the ‘Underworld’. Another Maori name is ‘Te Rerenga Wairua’, meaning the leaping-off place of spirits. Both refer to the Maori belief that the cape is the point where the spirits of the dead enter the underworld. Cape Reinga is located over 100 kilometres north of the nearest small town of Kaitaia. State Highway 1 extends all the way to the Cape and suitable vehicles can also travel much of the way via Ninety Mile Beach and Te Paki stream bed.
Ka kite ano (see you again)