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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Monday 6 March 2023

Slightly underwhelmed at Pukaha

 March 6th 

So cold this morning, felt very Autumnal and it's still supposed to be summer! Unheard of for Ian to put on a jumper, even he said it was a 'bit chilly'. But it was dry, the sun shone and we hoped for a good day at Pukaha national wildlife centre.

The place opened at 9 am, we arrived slightly after and went to pay the adult price of $24 each but what a  surprise when they allowed us senior rates at $20.50. It doesn't usually apply to foreigners just the New Zealander pensioners. Anyway we weren't going to argue, she gave us a map of the place told us specific points of interest i.e. the endangered Kokako and a must-see, feeding the eels.


Several aviaries were on the route we took, we looked for the Saddle Backs, Kakariki and Kokako but not hide nor hair seen. So we walked to the Kiwi House and got lucky there. Of course Kiwi are nocturnal so a dim red light meant they were difficult to photograph. 


Further along the path was a free flight aviary where we could enter to see the birds up close. This was also a great disappointment as only one bird seen and no birdsong heard either. A New Zealand Pigeon  (Kereru) was sat on a branch, we got to see that, and in a small pond was a very elusive Whio (blue duck)

So the morning was spent going back and forth to the various aviary to see if any birds had made an appearance and again, none had! There was a wetland walk, that may yield better results and yes it might well have done if the wetlands were wetlands! It appeared to have been dry for quite some time. Even a rat trap had been placed where water should have been, So far we were not impressed! The North Island had hardly been exposed to drought these last few months!

 Back to the main entrance to have a spot of lunch. At 1.30 pm the Eels were to be fed, we were both looking forward to that.


It was good, the eels writhed over each other to get the food and just before the end, 4 dead mice were brought out as eel desert. This was the highlight of the day so far.

The only thing left for us to do was the 4 km loop walk. A lookout was at the top, somewhere to sit and have a breather because for 2 of those 4 kilometres we climbed. Some very steep parts, they were killers!

The view at the top was worth the effort and of course there was yet another 2 km to go down.


 By now the time was getting on and was quite prepared to exit the place but then, walking past three interlinked aviaries, every bird in those aviaries were seen including the lonely Kokako. It had been raised as a chick and now thought itself more human than bird. Apparently it loved men and followed Ian as he walked along the fence.

Found outside its nest and abandoned by the parents

Yellow Crowned Kฤkฤriki




So the day turned out okay in the end.  I feel we would have gone away very disappointed had we left after lunch. As it was, seeing the eels, doing that 4 k walk and finally getting to see those birds meant the day was not a disaster after all.

Back we went to Eketahuna, to last night's camp ground passing the Anzac Bridge in doing so.

Tomorrow we head for.....drum roll, please....wait for it.... 


Look it up!

And some of the other wildlife seen


This Beetle/Wasp/? was killing the spider/

As big as our huge house spiders

Landed on my jumper. Very small and usually can be seen hanging from a thread from trees.

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