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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Touring New Zealand (1 Viewer)

should be able to pick up cheap bedding in 2nd hand/charity shop in Aukland?? If just for couple of nights any old cheap thing could do?

Failing that, Auckland's not exactly short of outdoor shops...Katmandu on Queen St for e.g.

Tiri gets my vote too

McM
 
Thanks, I am looking into fnding a couple of sleeping bags or blankets but dont want to spend too much money on them for one-time use. Have another problem. I have lost the adaptor plate that goes between my tripod and my camera so now I have to find a replacement for that. I have three weeks left.
 
After two weeks of rain, we are finally getting some sunshine. I have been doing a lot of reading and sleeping. I managed to borrow a couple of sleeping bags, I got a replacement part that I needed for my tripod, and I made a reservation to go to Tiritiri Matangi Island. I can only go for one night as everything else was booked up. I hope the good weather lasts for another two days. Leaving tomorrow. Will tell you what I saw when I get back.
 
The accommodation on the island is in a government bunkhouse with six people to a room. We were very lucky, we got a room to ourselves and got the only room with a view of the water. All other days, the bunkhouse was booked full.
Before going to the island, all equipment has to be cleaned and checked for stowaways such as mice or insects. They also have to be checked for seeds. The bottoms of your shoes have to be washed. All food has to be in rodent proof containers. No plastic bags or open containers. We borrowed a couple of sleeping bags and put them in a cardboard box and taped up all the cracks in the box and all corners.
On the ferry on the way to the island, I saw a flock of about 30 Fluttering Shearwaters.
After getting settled in the bunkhouse, we went for our first walk. Saw lots of nice birds but nothing new. But the weather was great and I was able to get some nice photos. We saw a Fernbird that I spent so much time looking for in the South Island. We saw lots of Red-fronted Parakeets. Also Whitehead, Saddleback and other nice birds included the rare Takehe which I had seen once before.
After dark we went out looking for kiwi. To look for kiwi, you must put red cellophane over your flashlight as the bright white light will scare them away. I spotted two birds walking in the grass which at first I thought were kiwi but turned out to be Brown Teals which is another rare bird.
We walked down to the wharf and were standing there when we heard something coming up the road. Again we thought it was a kiwi but again we were wrong. This time it turned out to be two Little Penguins. They came walking down the road and passed by about one metre from us. The Little Penguin in adorable and this was the best moment of my whole time in New Zealand. At a height of only 40 cm, they are the smallest of the world’s 18 penguin species and so very cute. They stopped just a metre away from us and stood there for a minute looking around before going on their way. They seemed to be unsure of where they were going.
We headed back to the bunkhouse and was thinking that we would not find a kiwi. We got almost back to the bunkhouse when we heard something moving in the bushes. It turned out to be the Little Spotted Kiwi, my second kiwi species. Early in my trip I saw the Brown Kiwi. All kiwis are rare but the Little Spotted Kiwi is critically endangered with a population of about 1,600. It no longer exists in its native South Island, living only in bird sanctuaries on small islands such as Tiritiri Matangi.
It was a great day with two new species and a wonderful penguin experience and great weather. It rained during the night and was gloomy in the morning but cleared up by 11 a.m and was another very nice day. Didn’t see anything new on the second day. In total, I saw 24 bird species which I think is just about everything on the island with the exception of the Kokako, which I was unable to find. I think there are owls also but didn’t see one.
Some tips if you go there. There is no restaurant so you need to bring all your food. Coffee, tea and soft drinks are available at the gift shop between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. There is no garbage facilities so bring a garbage bag and be prepared to take all your garbage back with you. There is a compost bin for food scraps. Water is available in the form of rain water which they said is drinkable but you might want to bring some nice bottled water. Pillows are available but without pillow cases so bring a pillow case. Red cellophane is provided to cover your light at night when looking for kiwi but you need an elastic band or string or something to hold it on.
The best birding is between the lighthouse and the wharf and from there, north to on the Hobbs Beach track to Kaweraw Track. Don’t bother going to the north end of the island or along the east coast. It is unproductive and very steep hills.
 
Only a couple of days left in New Zealand. My goal was to see 100 new birds here. I did not quite make it. I saw 103 birds but ten of them were repeats that I had seen before in other countries. I saw 44 endemics, 34 other new lifers, and 25 introduced birds which include the ten repeats.
New Zealand is not a great place for seeing huge numbers of birds. I saw 72 new birds in Guatemala in two weeks and 185 in Belize in two months. Although you can’t rack up large numbers of new lifers, more than 50% of the birds I saw were endemic. So although the grand total was small, many were birds that I could never see in another country. Also, NZ might be the best place in the world to see pelagic birds. I saw 13 species of Albatrosses, Shearwaters and Petrels. I had only ever seen one previously.
Birds that I searched for but never found include the Fiordland Crested |Penguin, Rock Wren, Blue Duck, NZ Falcon, Hutton’s Shearwater, Shore Plover, and Kokako.
My favourite birds by far were the two species of penguins, the Yellow-eyed and the Little Penguin. I had a very special moment one night on Tiritiri Matangi Island when two Little Penguins passed me on the road less than one metre away. Other favourites include the NZ Robin and the Fantail. Both of these birds are very cute and friendly. The rarest sighting were the Takahe and the Black Stilt. Both of these birds have populations of only about 200. Although rare, the Takahe can be easily found on Tiritiri Matangi and at Zealandia and they are quite tame. The Black Stilt was more of a challenge.
The best tours were Ruggedy Range (Stewart Island) and Albatross Encounter (Kaikoura). Both of these tours are similar but you will see different species. The best place for penguins was on the Otago Peninsula. Penguin Place for the Yellow-eyed and just outside of the Royal Albatross Centre for the Little Penguin. There are other viewing places but here you can see them closer and for less money. I didn’t go to the Royal Albatross Centre to see a couple of nesting birds through tinted glass for $40. Instead a chose a boat tour with Monarch tours. Although not as good as the above mentioned tours, it is probably the best place to see Northern and Southern Royal Albatross flying.
Many people told me that Pterodroma Pelagics was excellent. This is a all-day tour for $300. I didn’t go on it because I didn’t go in time for their last tour of the season on 13 April after getting back from South Island. Apparently you would see a lot of pelagics and is the only opportunity to see the very rare NZ Diving Petrel. Sorry I missed out on that one.
I found two species of kiwi. They are interesting but difficult to observe in the dark.
Buy your guidebook before you go to NZ. I bought a guide book to the Birds of NZ in Canada for $26. The same book here averages more than $50. It was printed in UK. NZ is very expensive.
Thank you Chlidonias for all your help.
So ends my tour of New Zealand. Now, north to Alaska.
 
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