363 Days on the Road
When we arrived at the Kauri Coast Top 10 Holiday Park yesterday, we were stoked to find out that these guys run their own kiwi spotting tour after dark! It’s an affordable way to increase your chances of seeing kiwi birds in the wild and we just can’t wait. There are not that many night tours in New Zealand so we are also stoked to be able to unwind throughout the day before our tour begins.
The Kauri Coast holiday park is definitely not a bad place to unwind. It’s surrounded by parkland and native forest. There’s even two rivers on either side of the park, so there’s plenty of space to stretch our legs and explore the holiday park, try out the zipline, and make some great eats in the communal kitchen. We’re currently staying in one of their cabins which has plenty of room for us to catch up on some work, i.e. update NZPocketGuide.com with all the amazing activities and places in New Zealand that we’ve discovered recently.
The Kauri Coast Holiday park Guided Night Walk
When the sun starts to set, we layer up with jackets and beanies, and it’s time for us to meet at the holiday park receptions for the Guided Night Walk into the Trounson Kauri Park. Not only is this a chance to see the many nocturnal forest creatures, but also the ever-elusive brown kiwi! After a quick briefing from our guide, Chris, we get into a van and head to the Trouson Kauri Park.
A night walk in the Trouson Kauri Park
Before setting off on our night walk, we are equipped with a torch each to point at our feet to see where we are standing. Chris has a red-filtered hunting lamp of 500 watts to shine into the forest and reveal any nocturnal creatures without dazzling them. We follow Chris to a huge information shelter at the entrance of the Trouson Kauri Park, which is the perfect setting for Chris to tell us more about what makes this forest great, from the ancient kauri trees – the largest type of tree in New Zealand – to the native creatures that live here. He also explains about the threats to these species, like the introduced pests of dogs, cats, stoats and possums, as well as the kauri dieback disease which can be spread on hikers’ footwear. With that, we brush and spray our shoes at a cleaning station before entering the deep dark forest.
Walking among the forest giants
Now, the seven of us walk as quietly as possible on a mix of gravel and boardwalk, which Chris is upfront scanning the forest with his powerful red torch for kiwi. We’ll stop every so often at places of interest, for example at good examples of epic kauri trees through different stages of their life cycle.
Kiwi spotting #1!
All of a sudden, we hear a loud high-pitched call into the night followed by what sounds like a constipated monkey. That is the call of a male and female kiwi (and the female was the latter) and they’re right behind us! We quickly and quietly backtrack. With a bit of patience, we see one! A kiwi is feeding, probing its long bill into the ground. We get this encounter for about 20 seconds before it realises we are there and quickly scurries into the forest. Wow! We can’t believe we have seen a kiwi bird in the wild! Not many New Zealanders themselves can say the same thing (only about 3%).
Encounters with creatures of the night
We have much more of the walk to go, so we carry on where we start to see some more creatures of the night. Chris shines his light into a beautifully clear pool to reveal a freshwater crayfish! Next, we find a long-finned eel. Chris lights us large native insects called weta that hang on the bottom of trees, then switches his torch off to reveal a small grotto of glowworms. With each wildlife sighting, Chris shares a wealth of knowledge about the creature, each with their own fascinating facts, like the large kauri snail which is one of the very few carnivorous snails in the world!
Kiwi spotting #2!!
Once we complete the 1.7km loop track, everyone is keen to try their luck at seeing another kiwi at the beginning of the track again. Sure enough, by listening out to rummaging on the forest floor and being patient, we get a quick glimpse of a juvenile kiwi! Two kiwi birds in one night!
We can definitely go to bed back at the Kauri Coast Top 10 Holiday Park feeling satisfied that we have managed to see so many types of native wildlife all in one night, thanks to our knowledgeable guide! The tour is extremely affordable and definitely worth it for wildlife nuts like us!
Why wouldn’t you? Get your eyes on these articles!
- Northland – Guide for Backpackers
- 10 Things You Did Not Know About New Zealand Wildlife
- 10 Best Places to See a Kiwi Bird in New Zealand
See you tomorrow!