Places like Kaikoura might be famous for its wildlife, but we are definitely on a wildlife streak up here in New Zealand’s northernmost region. We started our trip up north with a stop at the Goat Island Marine Reserve where we used Clearyaks to see an array of fish beneath the ocean’s surface and yesterday we went scuba diving and swimming with seals in Poor Knights Islands. Today, we’re going to be checking out some of New Zealand’s native land animals and birds including the elusive kiwi bird at Kiwi North right here in Whangarei!
Our first ever sighting of a gecko!
Kiwi North is only a 5-10 minute drive out of Whangarei, and when we arrive we are surprised to see that it’s more than just a kiwi house. The complex also holds the Whangarei Museum and the Heritage Park. Really, we are doing three activities in one today! However, we are not wasting any time: we are heading straight for the wildlife section of Kiwi North, which just happens to start in the gift shop! A glass case reveals a couple of gecko, a tiny New Zealand lizard that either blends in so well with green leaves or brown tree bark depending on what species of gecko they are. In true lizard fashion, they sit perfectly still in their position: one getting some high ground balancing on a leaf, while the other lies half buried under a log. While these guys are playing an intense game of ‘freeze’, the gecko we’re about to see are going to show us some action. Until then, we walk into the first corridor of the Kiwi House – a corridor of critters. Kiwi love eating insects and Kiwi North rear up a few fascinating insects right here.
Insects getting frisky
The insects that steal the show is a case full of locusts. We can see females munching away on grass with so much detail while, oh yeah, a male is ‘on’ her back. Yep, there is pretty much an orgy going on the locust case!
A not-so active insect at this time of the day is the native tree weta. A small door on the blacked-out weta case opens up to reveal the sleeping weta inside. These are huge insects that we have been lucky enough to see in the wild too.