Te Awamatu, Maungatautari, Otorohanga

Trip Start Nov 01, 2009
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Trip End Nov 30, 2010


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Where I stayed
Camp Kiwi Holiday Park

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Saturday, June 26, 2010

NZ ROAD TRIP DAY 2
We started the day with hot oats for breakfast - mmmmmm, and drove into Hamilton to find the tourist information. We never did actually find the tourist information, which was quite an impressive feat for such a small place, and ended up driving on to a place called Te Awamatu to find one. It quickly became apparent to us that every small village or small cluster of houses had a tourist information, and that the iSite ones were best.

At Te Awamatu, in the iSite, we were told about a bird park nearby which we decided to visit. The park was called Maungatautari and it was free to enter, although donations were welcomed.

Driving to the bird park we got our first taste of New Zealand radio. We listened to a talk show about the All Whites - New Zealand’s unbeaten football team in the world cup. Everyone who phoned in sang their praises and one guy had even written a poem about their success, all this for a team that hadn’t got out the group stages.

The bird park turned out to be an area of forest that had been completely fenced off to protect it, preventing mice and other non-native animals from entering the park to enable the re-introduction of some of New Zealand’s most endangered species - including the kiwi. We walked through the forest for about three hours, there were loads of ferns - which felt appropriate given that we were in New Zealand.

Birds we saw included two Takahe, which we only saw because they walked behind a sign we were reading. Afterwards we found out that they are pretty rare and that we were lucky to see them. They are large birds with bright blue feathers and really chunky bright orange legs and feet. There were quite a few fantails flying around, these are best described by their name. In the forest we climbed up a wooden tower for a view of the tree tops and hopefully a few more birds sightings, although this was kept brief once the whole structure began to sway a little more than felt comfortable.

An aviary next to the wooden tower was used to breed birds for release or nurse ill ones. We spoke to the volunteer at the aviary a lot about birds, but probably more about adventure sports and the World Cup. He seemed to feel he had a responsibility to talk about birds and kept trying to steer the conversation back to that topic, although he clearly was more in the mood to talk about sport. He is the only person I have ever met to have done a bungee jump with a pacemaker.

In the aviary we saw Ka Ka’s and flying around outside it, Kakariki’s - an Alpine parrot, as well as a huge fat Kereru - the posh name for a pigeon.

As we left the birds park we told the lady at the entrance of our sightings and how much we had enjoyed it, we couldn’t help but think how she sounded like Dame Edna, but she was really nice! Lunch was had in the car park and included a cup-a-soup using water we boiled on our stove and sandwiches.

It started to rain as we headed toward Otorohanga where we planned to spend the night. We found a tiny camp park with about six sites next to the town’s main attraction; a native bird park with a kiwi house. Apparently the kiwis could be heard at night from the camp site, but as we had tea in our camper we couldn’t hear the call over all the other birds which made a right din at sunset.
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