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! This is an island off th' coast o' th' South Island and is fer about 85% National Park, pass the grog! The other parts are Maori land and th' township o' Oban, with a chest full of booty. 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, and dinna spare the whip! Walk the plank! 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', we'll keel-haul ye! 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. Walk the plank! 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, avast. We are pretty happy with that, as seein' a Kiwi in th' wild is quite excitin'! Most New Zealanders have not seen one themselves!
Around 1 we arrived at th' rendezvous point fer our tour t' Ulva Island. 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. Yaaarrrrr! Shiver me timbers! 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, I'll warrant ye. 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. This is incredible, and a bucket o' chum! 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. And hoist the mainsail! 😉