After our December visit to Kapiti Island we still had a couple of daytrip vouchers to visit the more southern Rangatira Point. Keryn’s parents were staying and Phil had a significant birthday to celebrate, so we decided to all take the trip before Alayna started school. Leave from work was organised and we drove north to catch our boat, only to have to turn around due to an accident at Pukerua Bay. Phone calls were made, leave was rebooked and we tried again the next day with more success.
Arriving in Paraparaumu we went through the check-in process and then boarded the boat. It was a full trip, everyone masked up and wearing lifejackets as we zipped across the calm strip of ocean from Paraparaumu Beach to Rangatira Point. Disembarking we were lead by our guide, Anthony, to the visitor shelter for an introductory talk and then we were left to our own devices. Our plan was to walk up the Wilkinson Track, at least as far as the Hihi feeders, and then see how we were getting on before deciding if we would continue up to the trig.
We took our time, no need to hurry, and stopped at regular points to see what bird were around. Alayna came across a couple of weka with recently hatched chick, two little dark grey bundles of fluffiness. Not far along from there we were nearly run off the track by a pair of weka, one angrily chasing the other and neither with any concern that there were people ahead. Popokotea (whitehead) and tieke (North Island saddleback) were often to be seen beside the track and calling in the forest, toutouwhai (North Island robin) popped out of the bush to watch us walk by, a keen eye looking for bugs we might disturb as we tramped by. I found a not-long-dead weta on the track and we had a good look, Alayna correctly identifying it as female due to the ovipositor.
Alayna wasn’t enjoying the uphill walking, reasonably gentle as it was on the well maintained track. We decided we’d have an early lunch at the hihi feeders when we found a nice looking picnic table, a perfect place to eat and watch the birds using the feeders. Unfortunately the spot was home to a couple of weka and a very confident kaka and a tired and grumpy Alayna was immediately distrustful. With good reason, the kaka was very bold, landing on the table and hopping over to check us all out, and our bags, hoping to find food to steal. We’d been warned not to feed the birds, only sensible as human food isn’t very good for native birds. Our new kaka friend wasn’t having any of that however, after having no luck with food from Keryn it flew over to Elaine’s back, leaned over her shoulder and grabbed a beakful of sandwich from between Elaine’s cupped hands and mouth. That was it for Alayna, she insisted it was time to head back down the track. Phil went with her while the rest of us put our food away and spent a little time watching the feeders. There were dozens of korimako (bellbird) flitting in and out, taking time to sit in the nearby foliage and sing when not chasing other korimako away. Two female hihi (stitchbird) managed to dive in and get a feed while the korimako were distracted.
We caught up with Alayna and Phil to find a kaka had also found them. Again the kaka was very keen to divest us of any food. This time it was my shoulder that was the favoured perch but Alayna was again unimpressed and took off down the track. I followed, but the sight of Dad and shoulder mounted kaka (aka devil bird) was all too much. I shooed away my companion and spent some time consoling Alayna, promising that we wouldn’t be making any more parrot friends. We continued down the track and then walked part of the Rangatira Loop walk until we came across another picnic table, nicely shaded from the sun and close to the coast. We had lunch, this time free of any avian company (other than one curious weka that was quickly dissuaded from sticking around by an angry young girl).
We weren’t far from the visitor shelter so after lunch had a rest there before continuing along the Rangatira Loop walk. We saw more weka, saw tui feeding in the bushes, saw the single resident takahe and found a gecko hiding in a weta hotel. It wasn’t too long before we had to make our way down to the beach to wait for the return boat. We had time to skim a few rocks, check out some shells and enjoy the cool breeze coming across the beach. The only regret, we didn’t get a good sighting of any kokako, other than a brief glimpse of a single bird flying across our view and disappearing into the canopy, living up to the grey ghost moniker. That’s OK, I’m sure we’ll be back again.