We spent three nights in the community caravan park at Okarito. Lovely spot with the sea one side and the mountains the other. The Okarito lagoon covers over 3200 hectares and is on your right as you come into the village. It is the centre of a vast wetland. Time to explore the many activities this area has to offer. We would like to have gone on a guided kiwi hunting trip into the surrounding bush, but they had closed down for the winter.
The Okarito Eco Boat Tours were still open however and we ventured out onto the lagoon in their flat bottomed barge for a two hour excursion. The lagoon is enormous and its size is not really obvious until you are out there on it. The lagoon is a huge feeding area for shorebird and migratory birds and the surrounding bush is an ideal area for native bush birds. We were lucky to spot some seventeen different bird species during our trip. Notable among them were several White Heron and Spoonbills. Some predatory control is evident from local ecologists, but the area is so huge that massive help is needed from government agencies especially in kiwi areas. To make it worse this year is a mast year and predator numbers will skyrocket.
Our vessel for the trip.
Well into the trip. Water was flat calm but in the second half of the trip some light showers came down and I had trouble keeping my glasses frrom misting up. It was not sufficient to dampen our enthusiasm however. Thanks to Paula and Swade for this trip and Swade’s excellent sharing of knowledge of the area and bird life.
The old wharf where our expedition on the lagoon started. The interior of the wharf has an excellent display of the history of Okarito as a port. It’s hard to imagine this being a port. There must have been some very brave seamen to have sailed over the bar.
We also went for a walk through the bush to the trig station. Another well maintained track and good walk, though we did have a young fellow run past us on the steeper part. Seems to be a popular pastime. Running through the bush to embarrass ancient pensioners slogging their way uphill. The visibility was not good for a photo from the top but we took one anyway and we were able to have a good conversation with the young athlete from France and to spend some quality time with a little robin. On the way down I spotted these blue mushrooms. I have been told they feature on the 50.00 dollar note. As an old pensioner I don’t see these notes so am unable to confirm.
Looking down from the trig station to the lagoon and sea front through the weather.
These two cribs (baches in the North Island) caught my eye while wandering through the village.
A few other things. There is an airstrip next door to the camp that is really only used for emergencies for light planes. There was a helicopter secured down one end. I found out that the pilot had flown it from the North Shore Auckland Airstrip to attend a photography course that ran over several days. Also while exploring the beach there was some plastic rubbish that had come from the rubbish dump that had been swept away during recent floods.
On Tuesday the 14th May we.left Okarito and travelled up to Ross in the rain. We were going to stop in Hari Hari but the area looked very wet and close to the road. However we did stop in town for a coffee and pie and to visit the local butcher. The butcher shop was so small that when a third customer entered there was no room to maneuver. We all had to shuffle about to get our meat. Judy purchased some pork and cider sausages. They do supply to the Hokitika Wildfood Festival and their beef and beer sausages were a success last time.
When we arrived in Ross after a very wet trip we parked our van at the Historic Empire Hotel. They have an excellent powered area to park in with loos, showers, kitchen area, and laundary facilities. Also the bar has a huge open fire and very good beer and cider. We warmed ourselves up and chatted to Andrew, a Sphagnum Moss farmer who was very knowledgable about the area, the lady behind the counter who was also very knowledgable and two young tourists who were attending Sydney University as marine biologists but were citizens of Portugal and Colombia.
The Fire. It really threw out some heat. That’s a railway line in front. The logs that were fed into the fire were huge. One piece took two people to move it.