Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

October 9, 2011

Kaikoura Wildlife

Filed under: Wildlife — Tags: , , — admin @ 8:40 am

Seals and Birds.

A couple of months ago I went for a trip to Kaikoura. I can’t even remember why I went now it was that long ago. Kaikoura is about 125 kilometers south of Blenheim at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. The town has rebuilt itself as a tourist destination for whale-watching tours. It is a very nice spot indeed with the sweeping panorama of the snow-capped Kaikoura Ranges in the background.

Wildlife of Kaikoura

About thirty kilometers north of Kaikoura is the Ohau Stream. Every winter Hundreds of New Zealand Fur Seal pups come to the Ohau Point Seal colony. The pups are born in November and December on the rocky seashore and move up the stream. They stay in the stream for a few days each visit but have to return to the seashore to get a feed of their mom’s rich milk. To feed their pups, the mothers spend time at sea hunting for Arrow Squid and Lantern Fish.

In earlier years the New Zealand Fur Seal was hunted for food and skins. Hunting them was banned in 1894, but they were nearly wiped out. They are making a comeback but present numbers are estimated to be at only 10-20% of their original population. The Maori name for them is Kekeno. Seeing the baby seals frolicking in the stream is the highlight of my trip to New Zealand so far. I highly recommend stopping and paying them a visit.

In Kaikoura itself I went for a wander around the rocky headland and saw some more seals. They just lay around the car park sleeping all day. I saw some oystercatchers, both the Pied Oystercatcher and the Variegated Oystercatcher. Two types of gull – the smaller Red-billed Gull and the large Black-backed Gull, also called the Kelp Gull. There were a number of cormorants, called shags over here.

If you do come here make sure you do an Albatross Encounter. You go on a boat ride and see heaps of albatross from what I can gather. Plus lots of other seabirds as well. I have not been yet, but hope to some day.

Kaikoura Bird List

Little Black Shag
Pied Shag
Little Shag
Black-backed Gull
Red-billed Gull
Pied Oystercatcher
Variable Oystercatcher
Welcome Swallow

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