Day 263 on the Road
The Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony
Today we are taking a tractor tour (how Kiwi!) to the Cape Kidnappers gannet colony. If you like this video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities in New Zealand then simply jump on over to our overly awesome YouTube Channel & hit subscribe for more!
Today we’re gonna be having a super close encounter with the world’s largest gannet colony on the mainland.
We have just arrived at Gannet Beach Adventures. It’s a bit of a gloomy day so we have our rain jackets on and we’re going to check in.
As soon as we check in with the gannet beach adventures we are noticing a massive tractor right in front of their building this huge engine is going to take us across the beach all the way to Cape Kidnappers.
There’s something very Kiwi about having a bunch of people on a trailer on the back of tractor but there’s a reason behind this nonsense. This is the easiest way to get to Cape Kidnappers because there are no roads leading to Cape Kidnappers so you can only go at low tide by tractor or by walking.
Despite it being a really bumpy ride, it’s surprisingly comfortable with these padded seats foot rests and something to hold onto for those extremely bumpy parts.
We do stop along the way for our enthusiastic and passionate guide, Colin, to tell us more about the amazing geology of the area.
In all our excitement to see gannets we almost forgot that Cape Kidnappers is actually a really awesome place to see some extreme geological features. The layers of land that we can see look like a set of stairs and it’s all been deformed due to tectonic forces folding and tilting the land. We get some really awesome examples of all that stuff that we learned at school but never could really see examples of.
Not only can we see layers and layers of history int he rocks dating back to 4.5 million years Colin also shows us fossils of sea creatures when this part of the land formed under the water.
Shortly after receiving all this massive amount of information from Colin we are back on the tractor. We are making our way through the beach which is absolutely stunning we can see a tonne of rock layers and all those kind of things and top of it we get to see our first gannets.
This is a much smaller gannet colony than the one we are actually heading toward this one is just right up the cliff. It is absolutely amazing how close we can get to all those animals without them being so frightened.
We start getting to see them flying across the wind, you can see they are more gliders than actually wing flappers. it’s quite interesting to see them behave that way, and we start seeing a little bit of their behaviour, notably the fact that they love to grab seaweed and bring it to each other.
Upon watching the colony a little bit closer we start to get to see a bit of the youngsters which are the different looking ones. they are the grey with white spots. They are all been taken care of by their parents who go back and forth to feed them.
But no time for the we are back on the tractor making our way very slowly to the beginning of our hike to the gannet colony.
So we just arrived at the hard section. We have 20 minutes to the biggest gannet colony in mainland everywhere…
In the world.
It’s a bit of a steep hike.
I am pretty hot right now. The whole tour is left way behind us. It’s a real steep climb.
But once we make it to the Plateau colony we realise that the hike is well worth the climb as we get to this huge colony of gannets right before us behaving just with their everyday lives not even caring that we are just a couple of metres away from them. there is a bit of a fence that we can’t go over across but that’s still really close to them.
At this distance we get to appreciate the amazing detail of these beautiful seabirds, with their yellow plumage on their heads leading down to their white bodies and they even have these yellow stripes on their webbed feet as well which is really cool and they’re vibrant blue eyes they’re just so stunning.
The Cape Kidnappers area accommodates about 20,000 gannets at its peak time and that’s spread over four main nesting sites around the area which we get different viewpoints from up here of and this one is the Plateau one while down below we can see more of those gannet colonies on little off-shore islands.
The gannets are mainly at Cape Kidnappers between August and April every single year solely for breeding purposes and we learn more about their lives thanks to all the interpretation panels around so you can read more information about it as well as all the information that we got from Colin on our way down on the tractor.
For instance, we learn that chicks around 15 to 16 weeks old take their first flight and it’s a pretty crazy one at that, it’s a solo migration of around 2800 kilometres to Australian waters. but unfortunately there is a high mortality rate and only about 20% of those chicks return.
As we are making our way to a different section of the colony we are enjoying seeing young chicks practicing for flying it’s all about instinct so they see their parents flying and they try to reproduce the same motion that they are doing and there is a high risk. It’s not like starting walking right. If you screw up your first flight, you’re dead.
It’s absolutely amazing to see an entire colony behaving. We see all of the birds interacting with each other we see some of them giving gifts to each other we see some of them bickering each other some of them cleaning themselves some of the chicks begging for food some of the parents feeding the chicks, parents reuniting after a long day at sea and kind of petting each other. It’s an absolute blast to watch those things behave you could just sit here and look at the colony for hours.
But our trip is about 4 hours in total so it gives us only about 40-45 minutes with the bird colony. To be fair that is plenty enough time to enjoy it to it s fullest but I just can’t stop but wanting to be here for longer.
But the rain is pushing us away so we are walking making our way back down to reunite with our guide and his tractor.
And with that it concludes our tour with Gannet Beach Adventures we are heading toward Wairoa tomorrow so don’t miss it and join us then.
And to actually get to the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers you have to access it by beach. There is Robin, there’s a fly literally on my nose right now. How cheeky.
That’s how smelly Laura is. That’s to tell you.