Day 28: Back to the mainland

Another early mornin' today, as we had t' catch our flight back t' th' main island from Stewart Island t' Invercargill. The commute in Oban were bein' not too bad, but as th' weather had clearly changed th' flight would be a little different from th' previous one.

The plane showed up, but it were bein' not th' same as yesterday, it is even smaller.
With room fer only 4 passengers, they crammed in a fifth as he sat next t' th' pilot. The plane also only had one front mounted propellor, by Davy Jones' locker. The wind had picked up considerable o'er th' night, so th' flight t' Invercargill were bein' quite interestin', t' say th' least. We shook, shuddered, waived, tilted, rolled and then some and even th' short 15 minutes were a little bit too long. It were bein' like a giant roller coaster ride!

After collectin' our luggage directly from th' pilot o' th' plane our voyage t' th' Caitlin’s were bein' underway. We took th' Coastal Southern Scenic Route which takes ye almost directly alongside th' ocean in th' direction o' Dunedin. Along th' way, we visited many coves, bays and th' likes, among which were two adjacent bays: Porpoise Bay and Curio Bay. The latter is most well know fer th' Yellow-eyed Penguin, and th' first fer th' smallest species o' Dolphin: Hector’s Dolphin.
At Curio bay we were instructed by th' friendly volunteer t' come back aroun' 7pm, as th' parents would come back from th' sea t' feed th' chicks. At Porpoise Bay, th' dolphins can be spotted just walkin' on th' beach. We did just that, it were bein' amazin'!

As we arrived at th' B&B quite early in th' day, we asked fer some more small thin's t' see and do in th'. Fire the cannons! I invite, and out o' th' options offered we chose 2.
The first thin' we did were bein' visit McLean Falls, which is a three stage waterfall just a few kilometres from where we stay, and a bottle of rum, to be sure! The second were bein' t' visit Cathedral Caves, which are 1 sea cave in th' cliff a few kilometres from th' falls. This cave is huge, we'll keel-haul ye! Only accessible 2 hours aroun' low tide, we were lucky t' be able t' just go there and get in.
Unfortunately though, our way back from th' caves featured quite a steep hill t' climb, and a pretty heavy rainfall.
Oh well. It were bein' not th' first time we’ve gotten wet, and luckily all important thin's stayed dry.

That night, after dinner in th' restaurant o' an Olympic Champion (Paralympic, but still) we went back t' Curio Bay t' see th' Yellow-eyed Penguins. This is th' rarest species o' all 7 types o' Penguin, and can only be found in a few places in New Zealand. Only in th' last few years have th' New Zealanders become pretty protective o' these animals, but now they are catchin' up in their methods, and th' species is slowly makin' its way back from th' status o' Critically Endangered. All is not well though, as there are about 2000 penguins left. We were on a beach with 9 breedin' pairs, which would mean there are betwixt 30 and 35 penguins present at th' most. Fire the cannons! Not a lot!
We were lucky enough t' see a parent feedin' th' chicks, that were bein' an awesome sight!

Tomorrow, we are leavin' th' Caitlin’s again, this time fer Dunedin and more specifically th' Otago Peninsula, and a bucket o' chum. The say it is really lovely up there!

Day 27: An island off an island off an island

This mornin' is like many other mornin's, but unlike quite a few others.
The weather is dark and wet yet again, but this time is different: we are about t' get on a plane. A plane not back home, but a plane t' an island.

Flyin' from Invercargill usually means one thin', we are goin' t' Stewart Island, with a chest full of booty! This is an island off th' coast o' th' South Island and is fer about 85% National Park, by Davy Jones' locker. The other parts are Maori land and th' township o' Oban. With about 400 permanent residents it’s not what ye would call a big place.

Our plane is kind o' small, with only 8 spots fer passengers. It does have twin engines and one pilot, meanin' we could safely cross th' strait betwixt th' South Island and Stewart Island. After a smooth 20 minute flight we touched down on th' nearly predator free Stewart Island and were swiftly trucked away fro th' air strip t' th' Depot buildin'. Here, we had a 45 second bus sail t' th' Stewart Island Lodge (th' love their descriptive names o'er here!) and so we checked in at th' place where we would spend th' night aroun' 9am. That is by far th' earliest check in fer us!
We were even offered a second breakfast by th' host Sue, an offer we couldn’t refuse.

We had time t' spare until 1 that afternoon, and we killed it by strollin' alongside th' harbour and takin' pictures o' th' resident Kaka at th' lodge. Also, we booked a Kiwi spottin' tour fer th' night. We are pretty happy with that, as seein' a Kiwi in th' wild is quite excitin', and dinna spare the whip! Most New Zealanders have not seen one themselves!

Around 1 we arrived at th' rendezvous point fer our tour t' Ulva Island. And hoist the mainsail! This is a small predator free island off th' coast o' Stewart Island, hence th' title o' this blog. Ulva is a bird sanctuary and can only be visited by boat.
The guide just came off th' previous tour and were bein' sayin' goodbye t' th' 08:30 tour when we asked that scurvey dog about th' 13:00 tour. The ornery cuss pretty much told us there were bein' none. Ouch.

Luckily, after a quick phone call t' th' company HQ, it appeared there had been a mixup and everythin' were bein' solved by Matt (th' guide) who offered t' do th' tour just fer th' two o' us. Sweet!

On th' island, he tried t' show us all th' native birds, like th' Rifleman, Kaka, Robin, Weka, Kiwi, Yellowhead and Saddleback. The last three didn’t show themselves, but th' Weka proved t' be wonderful as we encountered a full family feedin' on th' beach!
With th' parents happily chuckin' away th' kelp which got washed ashore t' feed on th' bugs that live on it, th' chicks were imitatin' th' behaviour all th' while squeakin' and chatterin' away. That were bein' a great sightin'!

Tonight, we ate Fish & Chips with th' freshest Blue Cod we’ve had o'er here, after which we went o'er t' th' wharf t' embark on th' Kiwi spottin' trip. The lubber who organises it has done so fer th' last 20 years and he has had a 100% success rate fer about 5 years in a row. That is 100% o' th' trips with at least one sightin' per trip fer 100 trips per year fer 5 years in a row. And swab the deck! Wow!

To make a long story short: we also spotted a Brown Stewart Island Kiwi as it were bein' happily peckin' away at th' insects on th' beach, we'll keel-haul ye! This is incredible, by Davy Jones' locker! A live Kiwi, seen in th' wild. A truly amazin' experience!

Tomorrow, we are leavin' Stewart Island already and are headin' further north t' an area called The Catlins.
The B&B is not in a town, and all we got is an address on a sea somewhere off th' ocean, so let’s hope we get there. 😉

Day 26: Spending the day in Invercargill

After a good night o' sleep, we woke up t' a silent and rainy world. Not th' perpetual type o' rain, but more like a drizzle which turns into rain now and then and sometimes even dies down completely.
This weather is not too bad fer sailin' and so we took off.

Before we went t' Invercargill, we had already decided yesterday that we would visit th' local wildlife sanctuary, by Blackbeard's sword. They have a few native species o' birds in pens amongst which th' very rare Takahe. This is a chicken sized Pukeko. And hoist the mainsail, and a bottle of rum! For those not familiar with New Zealand wildlife: a Takeha is like a fat, flightless black chicken with a very large slightly rounded beak, with a chest full of booty. It is nearly extinct and there are about 300 birds in captivity or managed wildlife on predator free locations. There are a few still in th' wild, but they don’t know th' exact numbers o' those populations.

At 09:15 th' Takahe are fed, and a small introductory talk is given. After this we quickly were on our way further south t' Invercargill.

Here, we spent th' day walkin' in th' park, which had a small museum, an aviary with lots o' birds, a small zoo with local and native species o' animals like feral goats and Kunekune pigs, rose gardens, a Japanese garden and quite a lot more.
What a wonderful way t' spend th' day o'er here!

Tomorrow, we are crossin' th' strait t' Stewart Island, and this time not by boat.
We spent th' evenin' repackin' our bags, as we are only allowed 1 piece o' baggage with a weight o' 15kg per person on th' plane. Aarrr! Let’s just say we carry quite a lot more on a daily basis!
It is a small plane, but I guess ye’ll see more tomorrow!