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.