227 Days on the Road
Akaroa might be known for its marine wildlife, like dolphins and penguins, but some unexpected wildlife can be found on land… Yes, we are actually sticking to dry land today, unlike so many other times where we have been sailing, swimming with dolphins, wildlife spotting, sailing some more and jet boating. Despite doing so many walks in New Zealand, it kind of feels like a sin in Akaroa, but after hearing a couple of locals talk about a “Rhino Walk”, of course, this peaks our interest!
The Children’s Bay Walkway a.k.a. the Rhino Walk starts at the eastern side of Akaroa well within walking distance. Easy! A super short boardwalk takes us between the Akaroa Recreational Ground alongside the seashore with its brilliant blue waters. As the clouds begin to part and the sun beats down on us, that water is looking more and more inviting… No, Akaroa Harbour, not today! To be honest, we’re a little envious of the paradise shelducks swimming around in the pristine waters.
Birds that sound like androids
Our eyes are taken off the water as we start to head inland up a small valley of regenerating forest. Instantly, we are reminded why we love the New Zealand forest so much. Weird clicking and tweeting sounds fill our ears as we head into the habitat of New Zealand’s native birds. Some of the sounds seem like they better belong to Star Wars androids than from the beaks of birds!
A not-so-agile forest-dweller
There is one species of bird, though, that doesn’t sound like the rest. It doesn’t agilely land on a thin branch in front of us then hop from branch to branch without disturbing its surroundings.The sounds it makes doesn’t come from its beak but from the beat of its wings. It’s the New Zealand wood pigeon or kereru in Maori.
The Incredible Pigeon
Wood pigeons are like the Incredible Hulk of your normal street pigeon: they’re bigger and greener. But being bigger and greener makes them extremely clumsy and super easy to spot. We hear them before we see them, flapping their wings to get from branch to branch, snapping a few twigs along the way. What we are loving about the Children’s Bay Walkway is that we are getting to see a couple of these wood pigeons closer and more frequently than ever before. (We’re pretty sure they’re stalking us). This forest is by no means the largest forest we’ve been in, but man do the birds love it here!
In the giraffe jungle of AKaroa
Viewpoints and giraffes
In between watching birds, we make our way up the valley in a mix of native and exotic plants until we hit our first viewpoint indicated by a bench, which seems to scream: “Look at the view, dammit!” Indeed, we can get a great view of the Akaroa town.
We finally start reaching higher ground when hidden in the long grass ahead of us we see… Is that a giraffe?!
Four metal sculptures of giraffes made to look like they’re grazing in the middle of a long grassy ditch – what the hell?! Whatever the reason they are here, they make a good photo-op, whether it’s something silly or something ‘artsy’. We go for the latter on this one… Save the silly for later.
A Rhino in the wrong herd
Past the giraffes, we reach an exposed ride and a cattle paddock, except one of the cows seems to have a weird deformation on its head. No… No wait, one of those cows is a rhino. We have found “the” rhino! But, unfortunately, it is surrounded by cows and a bull right now…
A rhino with a view
We gingerly walk into the field, just seeing how the cows respond. Most of the time, cows will just walk away from you, other times they can chase you… These cows seem happy enough to judge us for being tourists and walk away from us leaving the rhino for some cowboy photo opportunities. The rhino also has prime position in the middle of this hill with the views of Akaroa and the Akaroa Harbour on one side, and Takamatua Bay on the other.
Not a bad place to relax
While the track carries on for a couple of more hours, we decide to find a grassy patch outside of the cattle paddock where we can look at the views, sit in the sun, eat some lunch, and chat for far too long about life. A local even joins us for a bit. Then it’s back down the way we came spotting more birds and bees along the way.
Way back to Wainui
We drive back to our farm digs in the small town on Wainui here on the Banks Peninsula. A friend of a friend has let us stay awhile while we plan the next leg of our trip (after the setback of the whole campervan thing) and do some more awesome Akaroa activities.
Join us tomorrow where we’ll be exploring the Banks Peninsula, along with its grueling hills and epic views, by e-bike! See you tomorrow!
The final stint to the Rhino!
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See you tomorrow!