Monthly Archives: July 2014

Conservation Efforts to Save Little Penguins

Eco-tourism is swiftly gaining popularity all over the world because people are more aware of their impact on everything around them. The people behind Pohatu Penguins work to increase the population of Little Blue Penguins in the area through scientific research and study as well as good old hard work. They employ scientists who try to document each bird or pair. Once a year volunteers scour the hills to count nesting pairs and their chicks. In addition to this, they invite tourists to their facility to promote education and awareness.

When we arrived at the conservation area, they gave us an overview of the program and we were lucky enough to see live chick feedings. Normally, the group doesn’t get involved with the raising of chicks. However, if, while observing the nests, they notice that one chick isn’t developing at the same rate as its sibling, they remove it from the nest and care for it. The reason one chick is bigger and healthier than the other is because their parents aren’t able to supply enough food to feed both. The parents select the stronger chick and pour all their resources into it.

At the time we visited, they were caring for three chicks. Each had its own nest and were hand-fed twice a day. To feed the chick, it is placed between the knees and held close. In the wild, chicks stand between the adult’s feet to be fed. Then, the pieces of fish are slid into their eager mouths. There is a lot of squawking and wing flapping going on during feedings. This is the chick’s way of showing its delight and happiness.

After the feedings, we went on a short bush walk to check out the artificial nests that Pohatu Penguins installs across the hillside. The abundance of safe, solid nesting facilities encourages them to continue to breed in the area where they are closely monitored and stay safe. Our scientist guide told us how to decide whether a nest was in use or not. He also explained the presence of feathers and pointed out the difference between fresh and old feces patterns. Then, we went to the hides, covered and camouflaged observation areas, to see if we could spot wild penguins or other animals in the water. This, I admit, was really difficult to do. Penguins playing in the water look like tiny black dots. Even when our guide pointed out a group, many of the people couldn’t find them in the sights of their binoculars.

I’m glad that Marilyn and I found Pohatu Penguins. The eco-tourism packages they offer are a nice way to support groups that keep animals safe and protect nature. The natural beauty of the area was just stunning. The added bonus of learning about the wildlife made the experience even more magical.

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Filed under Attraction, Nature, New Zealand

Adorable Akaroa Town

Akaroa is a great little town on the Banks Peninsula that’s got an interesting French vibe. Marilyn and I had a few hours to kill before our amazing penguin excursion with Pohatu Penguins, so we took a walk around the bay. The weather was great once again and made our time in the town really enjoyable.

Then we joined the tour and went off-roading for even more marvelous views of Akaroa Harbor and the bays surrounding the town. It was amazing to see the expanse of the land and sea. The tour included a night’s accommodation in a cabin, a bush walk through Tutakakahikura Scenic Reserve and an evening penguin spotting tour. We’d also learn about the past and current conservation efforts as well as get to see some penguins in care. We were beyond excited, especially since we missed out on the dolphin cruise up in Kaikoura.

 

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Filed under Attraction, New Zealand

No Whales but Plenty of Tattoos

Marilyn and I woke up exceptionally early the next morning to make it in time for our scheduled whale watching tour. Unfortunately for us, and everyone else awake at this ungodly hour, the seas were too rough for boats to go out. Rather than wait for a few hours hoping that the wind and waves died down, we decided to head for Christchurch to get our tattoos.

Marilyn already had a couple of tattoos done, but this would be my first tattoo. I decided to put it on my upper back so I could cover it up. I decided to go with a family crest as it would be stamped in the old days. It’s unique and meaningful to me. Marilyn chose the map of New Zealand, a place that has grown very dear to her heart, with a Maori design weaving throughout it. The tattoo artist created the design especially for her to merge specific meaningful things.

The process of getting tattooed wasn’t as painful as I imagined. I think it hurt the most when the needle crossed over my spine. It felt like the needle went deeper, but it’s more likely that the bone was closer to the surface. But, overall, it wasn’t too bad.

I don’t think I’d pay to get another tattoo done though. I guess I’m a one and done kinda girl. I’ve heard that it can be addictive and once you get your first, you’re just waiting to get your second, third, fourth, etc. But, to be honest, I’d rather use that money to jump out of a plane again and again and again.

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Filed under Attraction, New Zealand, Personal