Saturday, January 11, 2014

Little Blue Penguins at Pohatu Marine Reserve

Pohatu Marine Reserve is a part of Flea Bay, which is one bay of Bank’s Peninsula, an old volcanic crater. The nearest town to Flea Bay is Akaroa, which retains a French flair. Some streets in Akaroa still have French names, but I guess the real reason behind this is tourism. Just went to the supermarket as I was heading for the wilderness. Though Akaroa isn’t that far from Christchurch, Flea Bay must be called remote, as driving isn’t all easy with roads being steep and on the gravel roads you enjoy having a four wheel drive car.

Flea Bay is a dream. You hardly see other people, sometimes a couple of hikers. The house was small, basic, and the toilet (no WC!) 30 m away from the house; originally the teacher lived in this small house. Only natural sounds around: wind, waves, penguins, sheep, cattle. Very relaxing.

If it hadn’t been for Francis and Shireen Helps there would be no Pohatu Marine Reserve. It’s the largest colony of the small blue penguins on mainland in Australasia [if you go for ornithology, it’s Eudyptula minor albosignata]. For a long time they cared for the penguins on their own, before the Department of Conservation declared the region a marine reserve. The major point had been keeping predators out of the bay. The penguins build their own burrows or they nest in the nest boxes, which Francis and Shireen have provided. One can look easily at the penguins inside the nest box, which are opened for tourists, when the family is surveying the breed. I went on their tour twice and I liked it very much. You can also watch the incoming penguins in the evening, though the light is already dimming then. But watching the little penguins hopping from stone to stone is fun.

Flea Bay during the day

Little blue penguin

 Young penguins in the breeding box

Flea Bay very early in the morning

Other texts on this New Zealand travel:
New Zealand Itinerary with Annotations and Pictures

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