Coming from America I had seen a program on the New Zealand Gannets and was excited to visit them while in Hawke’s Bay. The four hour trip out to their seaside nest was equally as exciting. You can opt to take the trip a couple of different ways. First there is a tractor trailer that can take you for a ride along the beach to the bottom of the cliff. There you climb your way up to the colony. A scenic way to go but I chose for the easier way to get there. It has to have been just as scenic as you enter from the internationally renowned resort and golf course of Cape Kidnappers. We went via a small bus that started at the Cape Kidnappers entrance. They had just finished building a multi-million dollar fence that kept the bad critters out so that the endangered birds and wildlife can life safely within the station grounds. It was pretty amazing to see how they built this. You then drive past the impressive resort and golf course to a working farm with the luckiest sheep I have ever seen. Spectacular views as far as the eye can see. I held my breath a few time as there are a few very narrow spots along the way that drop off to a steep cliff below. Once we got to the top you almost forget what you came for with the stunning views of the jagged cliffs and ultra blue ocean.
It was October when we went so if was pretty windy but there were a lot of gannets around, many of which were nesting. By December, the chicks will have hatched and the colony will really be bustling with activity. In spring, the chicks will take their first trip across the Tasman to Australia. Not a bad winter plan but a very dangerous journey we were told. Over 15,000 birds come to this area in the height of summer with only 30% returning the following year to breed again.
After spending time viewing the birds, walking the cliffs and seeing sheep and seals bathing in the sun the van driver/tour guide made us tea and coffee and offered up homemade biscuits for morning tea. New Zealand is just so civilized.