. She knew I was planning to find a job after the hike and thought I might like to try it. The DOC sets up programs all thoughout New Zealand that allow volunteers like me to join experienced Kiwi rescuers on five to six day hikes through the bush tracking mother Kiwis and capturing their offspring to bring back to a Kiwi habitat. Once the baby Kiwis are in the habitat, they are raised as similarly as possible to being raised in the wild, but with added defense training. The native kiwi is not born with defensive instints because until new animals like stotes and weasles were introduced, the kiwi had no predators. Unfortunately, Kiwis are on the brink of extinction and need all the protection humans can offer them. After hearing all the information Sophie could provide me, I really wanted to check into this program.
Once our trek ended, Zane, Sophie's cousin picked us up in our van and we proceeded to our next camping ground. Since our group finished the hike surprisingly early, we had time to check out the local lagoon and go for a swim! Sophie took us to one of her favorite spots and we swam in a pool where the river met the Tasmen Sea. A few of us even had the courage to climb a small cliff, feel our way through a small cave and jump out the other side back into the lagoon. Later in the evening, after some Hokey Pokey ice cream, we walked through a small park displaying Pancake Rocks, a natural landform that has yet to be explained by scientists. These "pancake rocks" sit like mini islands along the shore of the Tasmen Sea and have unique layering patterns that make them look like stacks of pancakes. Once through the park, we went off track to check out some beach caves and watch the sun set. Back at camp, we made a mexican style dinner and headed to the local pub for a few beers before bed. Another sweet as end to a sweet as day.
Our fourth day of hiking was kicked off at sunrise, as was typical. Once camp was packed up, we headed up river, through waste deep waters, back towards the coast. Our walk to Punakaiki provided us with a variety of scenery and obstacles to cross. About mid morning our river bed dried up and we were left to scamper across smooth oval rocks. Because the rivers are typically either rushing full on or mostly dried up and the drastic change occurs over a short period of time, we discovered several baby fish trying to survive in the tiny pools of water that remained throughout the rocks. Julius, Nemo's hero, rescued as many of the fish as he could find and returned them to bigger waters. He was quite proud of himself. =) Over the next several hours we zig zagged between hopping over fallen trees, climbing sand mounds, and crashing through streams before we finally met back up with the track through the forest. During our seven hour trek, Sophie was excited to tell me all about the Department of Conservation's Kiwi Rescue Program