A Visit to the Orokonui Bird Sanctuary

Earlier today (well, now technically yesterday), I paid my first visit to the Orokonui Bird Sanctuary, a local wildlife reserve. By good fortune, the sun was shining, and pretty much all the critters (apart from the eels) made an appearance. Memorable highlights included a Kaka defecating on a viewing platform, and some extremely rare native skinks/lizards taking the opportunity to sunbathe on rocks. Oh, and nearly every seating bench positioned around the trail had been donated by a local funeral home. Make of that what you will.

Along the trail, we encountered a sanctuary staff member, who had just caught one of the local Kiwis. Apparently, it’s around five months old, and is a particularly rare alpine type, of which only about five hundred remain. The staff guy is holding it by the legs, because the feet of a Kiwi make for potent attack weapons.

This one is New Zealand’s native wood pigeon. Not a small bird, they are known to get drunk on berries. As a child on the West Coast (very late 1980s…), I recall one of these things smashing into our kitchen window… which meant that for the rest of our stay in that house, my sister and I were not allowed bare feet in the kitchen, on the off-chance our parents had missed some of the broken glass.

The Takahe is not only rare, it was actually considered extinct until 1948. It also looks more than a bit like the common Pukeko. We saw a pair of them at the sanctuary, during feeding time… and let’s say that neither was particularly shy about accessing the feedbox.

All told, it was a fun few hours, walking around the trails. It wasn’t just birds either, of course. The tuatara was hiding a bit, but we saw him in the end.

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