Saturday, February 16, 2019

New Zealand Adventure - Day 9 - The Last Day

[Composed 1/14/2019]

"We're going to pitch, we're going to roll"

This announcement was made by our captain as we boarded the tiny vessel that would be taking us to Kapiti Island. This was not good. I don't like pitching, and I don't like rolling. I like smooth sailing, and judging by churning seas that wasn't an option.

Turns out, the ride to Kapiti Island wasn't as bad as I feared. The captain did his best to turn what could have been a white-knuckled rollercoaster ride into something far more tame. And after 20 minutes we found ourselves on the pristine shores of the island. We got a short introduction explaining the history and rules of the island and then headed out on a one hour guided nature hike.

For most of its existence, Kapiti Island was a bird's paradise. There were no predatory mammals, and seemingly defenseless birds like the kiwi could thrive. And then man showed up, and spoiled that in short order. The scientists of New Zealand, however, worked tirelessly to turn back the clock and have eradicated all non-native species on the island. We noted a number of traps around, which are used to monitor for the presence of pests. It was also a bit strange to hike knowing that the only mammals on the island were our fellow hikers and guides.

Kapiti Island promised to be an ideal place to shoot bird photography, and it did not disappoint. While I didn't catch site of any truly exotic species, there were plenty of pretty birds for me to capture. The hike to the summit wasn't too strenuous, and was more than worth it for the 360° perfect view.

Before we knew it, it was time to be picked up by the ferry and head back to the mainland. As we boarded, the captained relayed some good and bad news. The good news: the winds were actually calmer than this morning. The bad news: because of the tide, it would feel like the opposite. And boy was he right. That white-knuckled rollercoaster ride we missed on the way to the island, we received on the way back. As if to underscore the point, as we approached the shore a massive wave of ice cold water drenched the back of the boat. Shira took the brunt of it, while I took some collateral damage. Admittedly, it was not a fun way to end what had been a pretty amazing day in nature.

This was our last full day in New Zealand. Tomorrow morning, we wake up early and head to Melbourne, Australia for the next chapter of our adventure. Whoo!

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