Tuesday, December 14, 2010

MY Land : Gannet Colony Cape Kidnappers.

My Land - The Napier / Hastings area of New Zealand's North Island offers one of the most exciting opportunities to visit Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve of over 6,500 pairs, which makes it the largest and most accessible mainland colony in the world. Most species of gannets seek the security of offshore islands for their nesting, so here you have a great opportunity to get up close to observe these beautiful birds, and the photography opportunities travelling there, and at the rookeries are boundless.

The trip along the coastal route offers good seascapes, coastal cliff formations, and you will pass an arm's length away from nesting sites at Black Reef. Please observe simple precautions of not disturbing any nesting birds, or going past the roped off areas at the Plateau colonies. You will be able to get close to them, but they make better photography subjects if you allow them to get on about their lives without you causing them disturbance. Stand back, use your zoom and you'll get wonderful photos.

Gannets have to be one of the best bird subjects for photography. They are experts at riding the wind and air thermals, much like an albatross that can soar and glide huge distances without flapping it's wings, so photographs will be sharp and clear as right up to their final landing, they give very little movement.

How to get there.
 Travel from Napier or Hastings out to Clifton. The main highways will be well sign posted.

 At the far eastern end of Clifton you'll find Clifton Reserve Camp and the walk along the beach commences here.  Allow around 5 hours for the return trip, and start your walk around 3 hours after the high tide, and plan to leave the colony around 1 hour after low tide as you must complete your walk before the next high tide.

Beach Safari.
 You can join the Gannet Beach tractor safaris. Give them a ring and get the departure times for the day you wish to go as it is very tide dependant. They also depart adjacent to the Clifton Reserve Camp.

Overland Tour.
 Travel by minibus is also an option, particularly for those less mobile, or if the weather is very rough. The other advantage is they are not tide dependant.

When to go.
Best time for viewing the gannets is between November and into February. Nesting commences in mid-September and continues through to mid-December. Then the young chicks will launch themselves and undertake an amazing flight to Australia returning to breed 5 years later.

What to take.
Sunscreen, sunhat, sunglasses, are musts particularly for the Tractor safari where on a sunny day there is little shelter from the sun.
 Pack your own nibbles, lunch and plenty to drink.
Comfortable walking footwear for the track up from the beach to the colonies.
Swim suit and towel as you'll  not resist jumping in the surf on a hot day.
And weather may change so take at least one warm top.
There are cushions provided on the trailers for delicate Granny backsides.
And don't forget the camera, fully charged batteries and spare memory card. You'll be snapping away!

We have been on the tractor safari 3 times and it keeps getting better. The gannets, the rugged coastal scenery, pounding surf that needs to be entered at times, and the excitement of the actual tractor way of travelling all add up to a great adventure day out for families, individuals and the birder.
Each time we go back, we appreciate it more.

Double click on any of the above photos to bring them up full size, then use your browsers back button to return to the post.

You will find a walking and tractor safari route map here-
Overland tour info here-
Tractor Safari info here-



Ben and Carrie Tracks said...

Loving this Gannet post....you couldn't be more right about how wonderful they photograph while just "hanging" above in the thermals... of course, your photos are always a cut above the rest.

Just discovered the Wild Vet Weekly Diary link up top...really great stuff!

Happy Holidays :)
Carrie and Ben

Expat in Germany said...

I had no idea there were so many gannets there! I saw a lot on a sailing trip around the Hebrides in Scotland, but nothing like this! I imagine the noise must also be quite something else!

Jim said...

Hi Ben and Carrie, nice to see you over here. Glad you like the gannet post.

Jim said...

Noise isn't so bad Laurel, and more than compensated by the action going on in the rookeries. Been there now 3 times and it is always a fascinating place to visit.

Unknown said...

I can't get my husband to travel anywhere with me and my daughter. He is a self proclaimed redneck and likes to stay home and ride his tractors and mud trucks. Maybe this is the trip for him...LOL Thanks for the post Jim!

Jim said...

Those tractors are the right colour for him Deanne... he'll feel right at home!

kenalinegaraku4u2c said...

Hi..Jim.I love it ,especially the walking tractor.When i read it,its as if i`m there myself.Liked it,cool simple blog and well written.Do visit my english travel blog as well atwww.malaysiaopenhouse2u.blogspot.com Thanks Jim.

Anonymous said...

A tractor safari! It's on my must-do list. What a fantastic idea. Hmmm.... I wonder if that would catch on in Singapore?

Jim said...

Why not? Plenty of old tractors down here we can ship up to you. :-)

inka said...

Who would have thought of a tractor safari?? Really, the world is full of surprises. Do they have upholstery for glamour grannies with a delicate backside???

Jim said...

duhh...umm.. yeah I better go back and edit in "Take your own cushion for delicate granny backsides".
Will do.
Hey, this safari is a raw, number 8 wire New Zealand can do operation...and that is what is so exciting about it. Innovation, making do etc.
But it has been very heavily inspected to make sure they operate to strict safety standards. There are some cushions provided. And if you're feeling insecure, or your young children can sit in the interior trailor seating up front, so no chance of falling out. And the speed they go at is a fast stroll.

And inall their years of operation, they have never had a serious accident yet.
Our Health and Safety Dept have been over these guys often to ensure it's a very safe operation.

Jorie Pacli said...

Jim, your photos are like postcards! I'm amazed at how you achieved perfect blue hue with your cam gadget... Thank you for having such wonderful blog...

Norbert said...

I had never seen a Gannet before (at least that I know of). These are beautiful birds! Love the color in their heads. And you're right, they photograph wonderfully. Nice shots!

Jim said...

Hi Jorie, that perfect blue hue is New Zealand pure blue sky, no gimmicry for that.Natural. Nice hey?

Hiya Norbert,reason we went back third time was because I had a better camera, and they make such great subjects as the only movement of their wings is that last minute beat when they drop down to alight. You gotta put this on your RTW trip! I'll come with you .

Cathy Sweeney said...

Jim, such great photos. Those birds are beautiful. Looks like a wonderful place to explore, too. The idea of a being part of a "traffic safari" sounds pretty cool.

Red Nomad OZ said...

What sensational scenery! And your bird shots are fantastic!! Certainly looks like NZ makes the shortlist for a possible overseas trip!!

Happy travels, and Merry Xmas!!

laws said...

Just returned from NZ...and a highlight was the "tractor safari" out to the gannet colonies. You captured the adventure perfectly. It was a wonderful day and an unforgettable experience.

photos by jan said...

Beautiful just beautiful. I would love to visit this spot, you make it seem so wonderful.