That was a great day.
Our camera club has a number of special interest groups, and the one specialises in landscapes is particularly active. Yesterday the group chartered a boat and twenty-seven of us went from Paremata across to Mana Island.
Most Wellingtonians are familiar with the flat-topped island offshore from Whitireia Park at Titahi Bay. It looks steep-sided but unremarkable. There are indeed some steep walls up to the plateau and I was breathing quite hard as we climbed. I was happy to take a few moments to construct a panorama on the way up.
Mana is not as large, nor as well covered with bush nor does it have quite the biodiversity of the larger Island, Kapiti, to the North. Unlike Kapiti, there is sufficient flat land on Mana that it was farmed for many years. It is in very recent years that it has been designated a predator-free reserve, and there has been a determined programme to re-establish native bush and to provide safe habitat for many endangered birds, skinks and geckos.
To the South the two wind farms, Mill Creek and West Wind can be seen clearly, though the day was so calm that the distant blades were just ticking over.
Of course, I mentioned birds, and there is considerable variety on the island, including whiteheads, tui, fairy prions, yellow-crested kakariki, tui, robins and a variety of seabirds. But best of all, the “back from extinction but still critically endangered” Takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri) is breeding on the island. There are now about 275 in the world. It is the largest living member of the rail family, and it weighs in at up to 4.2 kg. It is flightless, so on an island this small there is a good chance of encountering one.
We followed the outermost and longest of the several trails on the island for a total of over 7 km and arrived under clear skies and a hot sun back at the shoreline in plenty of time for the boat. To our great delight, some of us saw a takahe chick with its mother.
By now the sun was really heating us up so we clung to the shade but some of us got excited when we saw the tips of the wings of some quite large sting-rays cruising by at the water’s edge.
Tired but happy.