Gail Garber Designs
gail@gailgarber.com
http://GailGarber.com/

Logo: Gail Garber Designs

Gail's Quilting Blog

Maungatautari – Sanctuary Mountain

I first came to the mountain in November 2011 with friends from the United States.  My Kiwi friends, Kerry and Marion, joined us there for an evening of Kiwi spotting – the birds, not the people.  With  47kms of predator proof fence enclosing 3400 hectares in a sea of pastureland, it is the largest ecological island on mainland New Zealand.  It is, without doubt a must-see experience.  I could not wait to return!

Predator Proof Fence

Predator Proof Fence

So,

Birding in the Dark and the Rain

Birding in the Dark and the Rain

Marion and I headed out long before the dawn.  Right about the time we began pulling our binoculars (bins) out, drops began to fall from the sky.  Not to worry though, Marion had six (yes, 6!) umbrellas in the back of her car!

Sunrise at Maunga

Sunrise at Maunga

It was a little eerie to walk in the darkened forest.  We could hear, but not see the birds as they awakened from their nightly slumber.  We climbed to the top of the observation tower in time to greet the rising sun.  There is nothing more magical than to be alone in the forest with only wild birds as your companions as the sun kisses the earth.

View from Maunga

View from Maunga

We didn’t see much in the dark and the rain, but the clouds lifted as we headed back down the hill for breakfast at Out in the Styx.  Upon our return an hour later, things were quite different.  This time, the only drops were those that fell from the wet vegetation that towered above us.

Tall Natives

Tall Natives

We walked toward the feeding area where we were thrilled to see a very large, and very red parrot!

Kaka - Image by Charles Cummings 2011

Kaka – Image by Charles Cummings 2011

Maunga staff feed the birds in this area once daily around 11 a.m.  And the Kaka, one of the native parrots of New Zealand, were waiting.

Stitchbird, or Hihi

Stitchbird, or Hihi.  Image by Charles Cummings 2011

We also had good looks, but not great photos, of the native Hihi, or Stitchbirds, that came to the nectar feeders.  Small and fast, it was only with extreme patience that my friend, Charles, managed to photograph this individual when we were there in November 2011.

In Maunga Forest

In Maunga Forest

In addition to the birds, just being in a primeval forest among the ancient trees can be a life-altering, almost religious experience.  My favorites were the giant silver ferns, the national symbol of New Zealand.

Fiddlehead frond

Fiddlehead frond

It is easy to understand the Koru symbol, so widely used in this beautiful country when one gazes upon the gently rounded, unfurling of the new fern fronds.  However, not all ferns seem to grow this way.

Baby Ferns

Baby Ferns

Some just seem to carry and nourish their newborns until they are large enough to survive in the cold, hard ground.

Marion's Maunga Leaves

Marion’s Maunga Leaves

Along the way, Marion continued to gather leaves for her dye pots.

Looking at Maunga

Looking at Maunga

As we walked out of the forest, our short visit at an end, the skies were brilliant and we could see Sanctuary Mountain in all its glory!  Sanctuary Mountain will be one of the stops on my New Zealand Tour in April 2014.  It is pure magic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment