Kiwi Spotting with Sally Campbell (Senior Guide)

Some trips take a lot of beating. The 3 day Outer-Sounds Adventure is hotly sought-after within our guiding team due to the "expedition" style of the trip.  I was fortunate to draw the short straw on a 3 day Outer-Sounds trip recently and shared a special experience with my two Australian clients Hermann and Myra.

During the trip took the opportunity to paddle to Motuara Island in the outer-Queen Charlotte Sound.  It is a favourite spot to spend an hour or two looking for some of the rare NZ native birds released and breeding there.  Even sailing by affords you unrivalled opportunities to listen to the bell birds, saddlebacks etc.

Having pulled up beside the Moutara Island jetty, Hermann decided to stay on the jetty and observe what fish life was passing and keep an eye on our kayaks.  Myra and I wandered in a leisurely fashion up the track, conscious that we had the island to ourselves before the water taxis and cruise boats dropped various visitors off later in the morning.  It was a bonus however to come across the Department of Conservation staff (Duncan and Liz), on a project to change the radio transmitters on the juvenile Okarito Kiwis which are released on the island to enhance their survival rates. 
 
We were invited by Duncan and Liz to join them as they attempted to track down one last bird that had been eluding them. Our expectations were low as we set out sliding down the steep southerly slope, scratching through the undergrowth.  Myra was still wearing her kayaking footwear, socks and jandals – not ideal for bush bashing. 
 
Suddenly the DOC workers stopped, listening to the noises in their earphones, dropped all the equipment and scouted round for holes.  Within seconds Liz was pulling one sleepy kiwi out of its nest and putting it into a dark cloth bag.  This was a known kiwi so not of special interest.  Another one was pulled out, a bit more feisty.  This was handed to me to hold (by its back legs, supporting its body and cradling its head, kept it calm) and then the third which was the transmitting kiwi.  We watched enthralled as one apparatus was removed and another attached and taped carefully on and tested.  It was a delight to help the weighing of the Kiwi. 

A big thank you to the Duncan and Liz for allowing us to share this special experience.  It was not only a privilege for me to hold a Kiwi, but also for Myra, an Australian now living in Hawaii, to observe and be part of the conservation of  one of our national icons.  It is no wonder the 3 day Outer-Sounds Adventure has such a reputation in our guiding fraternity.