So it was up and off to grab some breakfast before heading up to look at Franz Josef glacier, still with the calls of the male kiwi last night reverberating in our heads. We did a short walk seeing a few birds along the way including a stunning shining cuckoo and a couple of tomtits. We also managed to find some greenhood orchids (Pterostylis sp.) which had just started to flower, in fact most had not fully opened but with a little persistence we managed to find one fully open. Some nice mosses and lichens and even some Tmesipteris!
We then headed south down the coast, making a few quick stops, and stopped at Knights Point to check out the views. The sea was pretty calm and no real seabirds, but we did have NZ fur seals and a single large Southern elephant seal on one of the beaches visible from the lookout. Very cool. Then it was a quick stop into Curly Tree Whitebait where the more adventurous of us has a spectacular fresh whitebait fritter on white bread, man was it good! Highly recommend this as a quick stop!
We then headed further down the coast to Jackson Bay and checked out a few areas, finally finding a Fiordland crested penguin swimming along the shore. We had reasonable scope views of the bird swimming along before it disappeared. We had lunch looking out over the ocean and then enjoyed a few other stops, before refinding probably the same bird and getting more good scope views.
Heading back up the coast we made a couple of stops for brown creeper and tried unsuccessfully for another fernbird, before heading up the Haast Highway towards the Pass. Stunning scenery and mostly clear skies made it a really nice drive, and we made a few more scenic stops. Just before Pleasant Flat I thought I saw a yellowhead fly up off the road (yes yellowhead not yellowhammer, and we were in beech forest), but in turning around we found nothing. But pretty sure it was! Eyes peeled for falcon, but no luck, but at another stop we hadn’t gone more than 40m from the van when we spotted a beautiful yellowhead. We all had stunning views of it feeding in the canopy for 15 minutes or more, with yellow-crowned parakeets around, kaka flying over, rifleman, grey warbler, it was a really birdy spot and we had excellent views of everything.
We then cruised the last part of the road through to Wanaka, very nearly not making it the last few kilometres when some knucklehead pulled out right in front of us in a 100km area. Luckily the brakes work well and we managed to narrowly avoid a pretty serious accident. A beer at the motel a few moments later helped to ease the frayed nerves, and we then had a nice Indian meal.
Bird of the day – Fiordland crested penguin x1, yellowhead x6
Day total – Seen = 44 + 1 heard (long-tailed cuckoo); new for the trip = 2; total for the trip to date = 150
|Greenhood orchid (Pterostylis sp)|
|Franz Josef glacier|
|Caught photographing the orchid|
|Curly Tree whitebait fritters! Yummy|
|Marvin making short work of his!|