It was another beautiful morning as we sailed into Napier, NZ. We had scheduled all of our tours weeks before leaving for the cruise, so we weren’t sure how each tour would turn out. This tour, however, turned out to be stellar.
We were picked up at the dock in Napier by Gannet Safaris Overland. From there, we were driven to their home base for a short break before starting our 3-4 hour overland tour.
The first stop was at the head of the cliffs overlooking Hawke’s Bay and back toward the harbor in Napier. The photo post of Alice and me as well as the video of the beautiful hills with all of the bleating sheep on my Facebook post from January 4th were taken from that spot.
From there we went another 10 kilometers up and down the hills through many fenced pastures and alongside the riverbed at the bottom of the valley. Our final climb was up to the actual Gannet colony.
As soon as we got off of the bus you couldn’t miss the cacophony of noise created by the birds. Then the smell of the colony hit our noses. It seemed like utter chaos until you studied the birds for a while.
Each pair of Gannet’s had its own nest which they closely guarded from their immediate neighbors, and by immediate, I mean a foot or two of separation. Mated birds often performed an intricate neck to neck mating ritual. Birds without mates danced around the outside of the colony trying to attract a mate.
There were Gannets constantly flying overhead, either going fishing to feed the chicks or carrying seaweed or other plants to build up their nests.
I was very lucky to snap a picture of one of the Gannet’s flying over my head where the motion of the camera matched the flight of the bird exactly, yielding a terrifically detailed picture of the bird and all of its layers of downy feathers.
I also waited patiently to snap a picture of a baby Gannet with its open black beak contrasted sharply against the white feathers of its mother. The mother’s bill was slightly open with food it is about to feed to its chick (See Jan 4th Facebook).
This is another case of trying to describe something through words and pictures that really requires being there to truly experience. I hope I have done an adequate job. If you ever go to New Zealand, you should put this on your bucket list.