Photo shows two flightless male weka facing off against each other at the Anchorage DOC campsite in Abel Tasman NP.
We are in the small village of Collingwood, almost as far north west as you can get along the top of the South Island. Past here is Farewell Spit and the Puponga Reserve, which we will explore tomorrow.
We spent four days walking on the Abel Tasman coastal track in glorious sunny weather. It's one of NZ's 10 (soon to be 11) Great Walks, hiking trails we have always avoided because of their popularity and cost (their campsites and DOC huts are much more expensive than those along ordinary wilderness tracks in the public conservation estate. Camping is normally free and 800 odd non Great Walk DOC huts can be accessed by a 90 dollar hut pass on non Great Walk huts). We assumed because it was only November it wouldn't be too busy. In fact, perhaps because of the weather, it was quite busy with people from all over the world using the trail.
The Abel Tasman coast is atypical of the South Island's other, more rugged, parts. It's more boutique and easier walking than, for example, the North West Circuit of Stewart Island which we have walked twice before, taking 12 days each time.
It's a very lovely walk, easily the best coastal scenery since we walked the Yedi Burun on Turkey's Lycian Coast
. The track winds up and down from one golden bay to another, sometimes challengingly steep for our old legs, but plenty of views to keep the camera clicking.
We last walked part of the track in 1986 after packing kiwifruit in nearby Motueka (the island/ motu of the weka!). Since then, apart from the track becoming almost uncomfortably popular, there has been a huge restoration effort to restore the park area to something of its former faunal and floral glory. The weka that so teased us back in 1986 completely disappeared under pressure from stoats in the 1990s, but have since been reintroduced and are now seen everywhere, alternately delighting and enraging campers. Kākā parrots have joined the park to add to depleted wild ones and are merrily making mischief around Bark Bay. Predator control has also meant the return of the orchestra like dawn chorus, as bellbirds chime along in unison early in the morning.
South Island birds like the weka and SI robins seem to be more oblivious to danger than their North island cousins, something which has not helped them after the introduction of mammals. Weka can't stop themselves, poking and prying and stealing or destroying whatever they can find. Even if you chuck something at them, all that does is encourage them to come closer. The DOC warden at Bark Bay said that the kākā there have learned how to turn on water taps when they want to, but don't bother turning them off again.
We are off to Farewell Spit tomorrow while our muscles and joints get some rest, then will plan the next long walk.
It's one lovely bay after another along the Abel Tasman track
Kākā parrot at Bark Bay.This is one that has been recently reintroduced.
Note the bands on each leg.
This lovely Californian quail is an introduced species, but is no threat to other native birds.