I love these Cleopatra birds

mother and chick

It’s absolutely amazing.  I had no idea that you could get so near to them.” Gary, from England, was astonished. “So close they’re touchable!” he said.  Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve was the main reason he had come to Napier.  Already his trip had been worth it. It was great to witness to his enjoyment in one of my favourite places.

Face to face these birds are amazing.  With a wingspan of 1.8 to 2 metres, these members of the booby family live in the world’s largest, and most spectacular, mainland nesting colony. Their pale honey-gold heads and Cleopatra eyes are impressive singly, however when multiplied by 15,000 it’s spectacular and watching them fish as they swoop and dive from great heights is wonderful.

“Whew, it smells like a zoo” said one of my companions when we arrived at the Black Reef colony. It was early in the nesting season and most were sitting on eggs. A few newly hatched chicks were visible from under the protective feathers of the parent, little bundles of white fluff oblivious to the pungent odour. Over-head, parents are gliding, soaring, hovering and bringing gifts of seaweed streamers as well as fish to feed the youngsters who have to develop before they to fly to Australia in a few weeks. When the adults land, we watch as they greet each other, necking and preening as they reunite

Continue reading “I love these Cleopatra birds”

mountain biking New Zealand in a national park

Mountain biking starts on Abel Tasman National Park track

Date:  30 April 2009

Abel Tasman National Park’s Gibb’s Hill Track this week becomes the first Nelson national park track that can be mountain biked with mountain bikers able to ride it for 5 months from Friday, 1 May.

Mountain biking is being trialled during the winter visitor season, 1 May to 1 October, over 2 years on the track that runs across the park between Totaranui and Wainui Bay. Monitoring will take place to determine whether or not mountain biking should be allowed to continue on the track beyond the 2-year trial period.

The move follows a change to General Policy for National Parks which now allows mountain biking in national parks on routes specified in national park management plans. Mountain biking provisions were included in a new Abel Tasman National Park Management Plan that came into effect late last year.

DOC Golden Bay Area Manager John Mason said mountain bikers could just ride the 10-km Gibbs Hill Track or make a 23-km round trip by also cycling on roads between Wainui and Totaranui. 

“We hope mountain bikers will enjoy this first riding opportunity in Abel Tasman National Park.

“Mountain biking is only permitted in the off-peak winter season when fewer people are walking the track. Mountain bikers need to adhere to the mountain bikers’ code which includes requirement to show respect and consideration to walkers.

“Monitoring during the trial period will assess mountain biking impacts including environmental effects and any impacts on other people’s use and enjoyment of the track. If the impacts are found to be minimal and acceptable then mountain biking will be allowed to continue on the track.”

The Department is also reminding mountain bikers that biking is not allowed on the Heaphy Track and other Kahurangi National Park tracks.

“Mountain biking is illegal on the Heaphy Track and elsewhere in Kahurangi National Park under park bylaws now in place. People can be prosecuted under the bylaws for mountain biking in the national park.

“Options for mountain biking in Kahurangi National Park are presently being considered in a partial review of the park’s management plan. What mountain biking can take place in the park won’t be established until the review is completed and a new reviewed management plan is in place specifying the mountain bike access allowed.

“The public will have the chance to comment on proposals for mountain biking in the park when a draft reviewed management plan is released for public submissions, expected to be before the middle of this year. Public submissions will be taken into account in preparing a final draft reviewed plan for consideration by the Nelson/Marlborough Conservation Board and then the New Zealand Conservation Authority.”

Additional information

Gibbs Hill Track can be cycled in either direction. It is graded as an intermediate-level mountain biking track. No more than eight riders are allowed in a group. Mountain biking is not allowed on other tracks in the area.

Mountain biking is also now allowed year-round on a short section of another Abel Tasman National Park track. The Moa Park Track can be cycled, between the turnoff on the Rameka Track – which is legal road and currently used for mountain biking – and the Wainui Track turnoff. This section of track links with a mountain bike track being developed in the adjoining Canaan Downs Scenic Reserve, providing a round trip.

The current Kahurangi National Park Management Plan came into effect in 2001. Under the General Policy for National Parks in place at the time, mountain bikes were categorised as vehicles which were prohibited in national parks except on formed roads. MORE INFO 

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