We took a short passenger ferry ride over to the island of Tiritiri Matangi. Another New Zealand Conservation reserve, this is truly a gem in the crown for the New Zealand Department of Conservation. The island was one an almost treeless farm, which has been virtually hand planted with New Zealand native trees and plants. All of the birds on the open sanctuary are endemics (only there) to New Zealand. There were trails (tracks) that take you all over the island to different habitats. On the highest areas, you can see the Auckland skyline, across the Gulf, about 50 miles away.
In an effort to teach New Zealand children the importance of conserving New Zealand wildlife, the ferry was loaded with them and they spent the day roaming the island. (Peace and quiet came to the island at 3:00 pm, when they and the other day-trippers left.) We saw most of the endemics of the island.
In the Valley, we saw the endangered, almost prehistoric Takahe. An enormous, flightless bird, the Takahe is bred and raised here to be reintroduced to other islands where it is safe for them to live. The Takahe's bill has a large lump on it, called a shield, which looked scary in pictures. We saw four Takahe.
Our night would be spent on the island, at the "bunk house," (the only place to stay on the island.) We were given a sleeping bag, would be sleeping in shared bunkrooms and will have a unisex bathroom. No television; no internet. Our trip leaders kept us informed of the progress on the US Presidential election back home because their cell phones could pick up the internet. By the end of dinner, we knew Barrack Obama had been reelected.
After dinner, we set out to find the Little Spotted Kiwi. The skies were cloudy and we walked quite a way, up on the Ridge Track. Then it happened . . . rain. It was light at first. Then it became heavier. Some had rain gear on; some didn't. All you could hear was rain; no Kiwi. We kept on walking; Brent scanning the track for Kiwi. Suddenly, just as it had started, the rain stopped. We kept on walking. The Brent spotted a Little Spotted Kiwi on the track! We would find one more on our trek back to the bunk house.
We returned to the bunk house around 11:30 pm.
Mabel was in the women's room and Bill in the men's. In the morning we found that there may have been less sleep in the women's room. During the night, one of the women exclaimed, "It's like we're sleeping in Jellystone Park, with the [snoring] bears! Mabel, who had left her earplugs on the mainland, agreed and jumped out of her sleeping bag and rolled over the loudest room mate. Quiet for a few minutes . . . What a night!