Getting up close with a rare gannet colony plus meeting some of New Zealand’s finest resident in Hawkes bay.
GANNET SAFARIS OVERLAND
Spectacular bird-watching with knowledgeable guides “When we turn this corner I expect to hear ‘wow,’ ‘gee-whiz’”, informs David, our guide at Gannet Safaris Overland, in his usual fun-filled manner. The entire bus turns to obey, erupting in a chorus of wonderment. Up on a dirt plateau hundreds of gannet are squawking in shrill unison. Lined up in preposterously straight rows guarding their chicks, some take seaweed in their beak as a romantic offering. The tour had taken us through paddocks, past the cliffs that testify to the young Tahitian falsely assumed to have been kidnapped by Captain Cook that has given the area its name, and through the sanctuary home to a multitude of native species. This intimate view of the birds though is culmination.
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TED AND ROBIN: Good from Scratch
On my morning walk, near Mangapapa Hotel I noticed a camellia hedge, with a carpet of petals, in hues of fuchsia, red and white lying on the grass. I inched further to discover the most magnificent kaleidoscope of flowers – calendulas, peonies as large as saucers, roses, forget-me-not, irises, foxgloves, hydrangea, hollyhock, manuka, and much more. Birds were dancing here and there. Robin, owner of Belmarven orchard, spotted me and took me around his garden. He had lemon trees as large as baseballs, fruit draping down on the lawn with sweet fragrant flowers flecked among the trees. Robin’s kitchen garden was laden with cabbages, broccoli, onions and other vegetables. A large scarecrow fully
clothed seemed out of place but Robin mentioned that his grandchildren insisted on having one. Robin also took me to meet his next door neighbour for over 50 years Ted Flanders. Owner of my favourite garden, he is slightly built, in his 80’s and full of gusto. Ted, Robin
and I worked our way through lanes full of flowers, and past a coop with a family of quail. Ted is also a master carpenter who is currently
whittling his way through chairs and tables and refurbishing furniture once deemed only good to throw out. This was a morning to remember
– two men who shared their history, lives and time with me. I will always remember – as these encounters are what make New Zealand.
This original travel article on New Zealand first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.