Friday, February 4, 2011

Okarito Lagoon and a small disaster

Thursday (pix to come)

Bacon and eggs for breakfast, then off we go kayaking. Richard explains where we’ll paddle and what birds we’re likely to see, and we’re off. First we paddle along the shore, more native bush, then cross the channel and paddle along sandbars where we see South Island Pied Oystercatchers (SIPO), terns and the white herons famously seen here.



Clouds begin to move in as we paddle through patches of sedge, then into a little river. Foliage thick on both sides and the sound of a noisy bird off and on, mingled with the drone of the cicadas.
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We come to a portage point, where my camera, which I had tucked into my life jacket, falls into the water. I retrieve it instantly, but I fear the damage has been done. I take a few more pictures, and though the first couple are okay, they soon get weird and I fear the worst. To be continued.

After the portage we go down a little further to a spot under a little bridge. The water here is brown, dotted with bubbles on the surface. We turn around with some difficulty and head back, sailing back over the evil portage point with no problem. Back in the open water of the lagoon, we start to struggle a bit. The last half hour is always the hardest! But at last we arrive safe, sound, stiff and waterlogged, but very happy with our adventure. We've seen some native birds, traveled low to the ground, breathed the air, and worked hard.

After lunch and a bit of time online at the kayak place, most of us follow Tim up the trail to the trig point.


It’s raining steadily, so the views we would have had of the southern Alps are somewhat impeded by clouds. Here's a view down over the lagoon where we kayaked this morning.

We imagine the brown kiwis that are probably hiding in the underbrush, and Tim tells us about his work helping to bring the chicks, hatched in Christchurch, to a pest-free island where they are raised to adulthood before being returned to Okarito. Sadly, the bush here is infested with stoats and possums that prey on the chicks.

Back down again in the wet, enjoying the ferns and New Zealand flax (looks like sword plant) on the way down. EAP is sure she’s spotted several bits of greenstone, and who am I to disagree??
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You can't have a rainforest without rain, and we've certainly seen our share. Tomorrow (Friday) brings a new landscape on the other side of the Alps.

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