Today was dry and fairly warm, with high clouds coming in ahead of the cyclone that is supposed to be arriving from the north. Apparently it is supposed to be considerably weakened by the time it gets here, but we may get quite a bit of rain.
First stop this morning was the West Coast Wildlife Centre, where we saw actual live kiwis in a darkened room. The kiwis in this area are highly endangered, due to introduced predators such as stoats. Stoats are like a weasel; they were introduced to control the rabbits the Europeans also introduced. But the stoats found kiwi eggs and chicks easy prey, and have nearly wiped them out. So there is a public/private venture to rescue kiwi eggs, bring them in and incubate them until they hatch, raise them for a few weeks, then transfer them to an offshore island where there are no predators until they are about 1 kilo, big enough to defend themselves against stoats. We couldn't take photos of the kiwis, so here's a Himalayan tahr among their other exhibits.
There were 3 kiwis in the enclosure we saw, with natural vegetation and in the dark—they were very hard to see, especially if they didn’t move. I can see how it would be very hard to see them in the wild.
Then we headed up the coast to a wetland area where we took a very short walk, then on to Hokitika. We took another short walk at Lake Mahinapua, just south of Hokitika. We have done so many rainforest walks on this trip – we’re growing moss on our trunks!
In Hokitika we got some directions, then set out for the Hokitika Gorge. My plan was to combine that with a loop drive around Lake Kaniere. First the Gorge. Driving through farmland, mostly dairy farms in a flat valley, there was no indication of the Gorge. But we drove up a little wooded rise, and there it was. We took a trail through the woods to see this milky blue stream cutting through the gorge, and we crossed the swing bridge (max. capacity 6 persons). Great views of the Gorge, which the sandflies also seemed to appreciate.
Back in the parking lot, here came this bird, followed by her chick! We are not sure what it is, maybe a bittern? Anyway, they marched all around and under our van. Cool!
At this point we abandoned plans to do the loop drive, and just headed back to town to find a campsite. And what a campsite! Across from reception was an enclosure with these two BIG wooly steers(?). And across the road is a glowworm dell. After dark we did a short hike to the Dell, and there were indeed glowworms! Little points of light scattered under banks and along the trail like pixie dust. Nice way to end the evening.