Call (+64) 3 304 7654, or Email marie@theseventhgeneration.org

Danger in the Wilderness

O Te Patatu is a spectacular and sometimes dangerous stepping off point into the wilderness. Jutting out into the Pacific Ocean it is the most Easterly point of Banks Peninsula; a beautiful and temperamental in-between place, where ocean, earth and sky merge.

We made the voyage out to this far point last week to investigate the potential for establishing a predator-free sea bird colony. Submerged reefs drive upwelling of marine nutrients, while ocean currents and weather patterns bring a wide range of seabirds close to shore; often visible are royal albatross, giant petrel, prions and Hutton’s shearwater.

Predators drove the last of the burrowing sea bird species to extinction on this headland. A special place to local Maori, it was once an important kai (food) gathering place and has associated oral legends and waiata (songs). If we can build a fence and remove introduced mammalian predators then the natural ecosystem can be re-established.

After weeks of heavy rain and heavier cloud the land was sodden, my heart was racing when we lost traction in the 4WD eventually needing to fix chains to move forward. Out on the point the wind was freezing and ripped through our tough outer layers, but deep to the south a break in the weather appeared across the ocean. Finally after weeks, weak sun shone through the clouds and pushed the rain north, so that we were able to enjoy a cup of tea from the trucks deck and watch the wilderness from the top of a cliff at the edge of the world.

 

Sea Bird Survey 2017

The Banks Peninsula Sea Bird Survey 2017 got off to a spectacular start yesterday with perfect sea and weather conditions.

Marie Haley and a team from the Department of Conservation and Christchurch City Council surveyed the whole Wildside coastline from Le Bons Bay to Akaroa for the beautiful spotted shag, white fronted tern, red-bill gull and more.

Marie even landed on a predator free island to check out the fairy prion and little blue penguin colonies. The fairy prion are unable to nest where there are any mammalian predators such as rats or stoats as they are so small and delicate, but on these valuable islands they nest alongside other sea birds. In pictures shown here the different species are neighbours amongst the rocky rubble.

Banks Peninsula is a sea bird hotspot with 70% of the worlds population of spotted shags found along our coast and the white-flippered little blue penguins are endemic to our shores. With intensive predator control and predator fencing we hope to ensure that burrowing sea birds such as petrel and prions can again make mainland Banks Peninsula their home.

The coast of Banks Peninsula is spectacular in any weather but especially so on a fine day, we have had plenty of rain this winter and so all the waterfalls were flowing down to the sea. Dan Rogers and Nikau Palm waterfalls were especially spectacular.

  

Photos (left to right): spotted shag in breeding plumage, Nikau Palm Gully waterfall (the southern most palm tree in the world), Dan Rogers cliffs hanging gardens and rare waterfall, fairy prion on Crown Island, white-flippered little blue penguin nesting next to the prion. Credits: Marie Haley.