The first week of the new year has passed so quickly and I’ve been wanting to post an update, but our card reader for the camera died and it took a few days to get another one. Good news though; not only have we gotten the new card reader, Marc has bought me a new camera too! That tree picture I posted yesterday? That was taken with the new camera. I look forward to taking better, closer pictures of birds in particular for your enjoyment and mine.
Speaking of birds, we had been told not to miss the gannet colony at Muriwai Beach. I believe the words used were “it’s all sex and violence there.” There are several paths from the car parks that lead to the rocky outcrops where the birds make their nests. Once upon a time the terns made their nests here, but the gannets have forced them further inland as they have taken over the site. The gannets are birds that mate for life and return every year to the same nest. They lay one egg between September and November and it takes forty-four days before the egg hatches. The chicks stay on the rock until February or March before taking off on a long journey to Australia more than twelve hundred miles away. They actually stay there for several years before coming back to Muriwai and starting their own family. Pretty cool, eh?
Marc and I were fascinated and spent quite some time leaning over the railings watching the birds. The sex part was pretty subtle. More of a courtship ritual really where the male would fly in with some bits of seaweed or other material and drop it at his lady’s feet. This was quickly followed by mutual neck rubbing and preening before he’d take off again. Marc would laugh at how they wouldn’t always land at their nest the first time around. Much like when he’s paragliding; if they’d miss the first landing they would just turn and climb before another attempt. Unlike a paraglider however, the nests are so close together that other birds would jab at anyone straying too close. Hence, the violence part of the show.
A little more violence was witnessed after we climbed down to the mudstone flats around the base of the cliffs. We found this great blowhole worn into the rock and every so often seawater would explode into the air from the surging surf. Very dramatic!
The very next day we took off for Mokoroa Falls. We had a tramp of about half an hour to get to the falls and an easy trek it was too! The wind flowed gently through the ferns and the sunlight dappled the ground as we walked in the quiet. We arrived at the top of the smaller of the two waterfalls on a nice observation platform. That’s where we took the above shot. Then came the steps. Many, many steps, but we did eventually arrive below and were able to approach the falls for a closer look. Our water shoes turned out to be little help on the slippery moss of the falls, but the rocks in the pools felt really good to the feet. Rounded from constant water action, it felt like a soothing massage.
There was a huge rock sitting in the gorge that someone had chiseled hand holds into and once I saw it, I had to try it. Marc was good enough to give me a boost up and then I climbed the rest of the way myself. The view from the top was spectacular. A green vista with two waterfalls and a stream running off into the bush. I’d show you some pic’s, but Marc took off with the camera and shot me instead.
We did try to walk down the stream a bit, but the way was slippery and as I’d already taken one fall that day, we headed back to the car. Unfortunately, it was all uphill. Somehow I hadn’t noticed that we’d been walking downhill the whole way. *Laughs* Eh, who cares? I needed the exercise anyway. Hope you like the pics and we’ve been really ramping it up lately so expect more soon!