The next morning we had a tour booked with the Gannet Safaris company – our destination was the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. We’ve done this trip years once before years ago, but we took a tractor ride up the beach to the colony … this time the trip took us by 4WD mini-coach overland through hilly sheep farms – Mum wasn’t too keen on the sheer drops off the cliffs and hillsides, but we were both impressed at not having to climb the steep path up to the colony from the beach level, as the coach drops you off right at the colony itself!
On the way to the Cape we drove through a Cape Kidnappers Station, and were lucky to catch one of them getting the sheep ready for shearing – here are a couple of photos of our infamous Kiwi sheep (of which 95% of Kiwi jokes are aimed at!), and the sheepdog hard at work herding into the pens (not bad photos considering they were taken through the coach window glass) 🙂
We had a short stop at the top of the cliffs to enjoy the view of Hawke Bay (which is the actual Bay, as opposed to the region, which is called Hawkes Bay), and here we were treated to seeing a really big school of dolphins swimming around after the fish that must have been there – it was breathtaking seeing so many in one place … unfortunately we were too far away to take really great photos, but here’s just a small handful of the dolphins that we could see. I reckon there must have been about 20-30 in the school … just incredible!
When we got up to the colony I was in my element … I tend to love birds of all kinds, not just ducks, and could’ve spent hours and hours watching the gannets. They’re the most amazing birds, and this time of year we were extra lucky to see the chicks hatched and being cared for by their parents – they’re incredibly ugly babies, but they certainly grow up to be something truly majestic and wonderful!!! I love this photo of the protective parent and his/her chick 🙂
Both Mum and I loved to see how affectionate the gannet couples are – the male and female birds take turns to look after the egg/chick while the other fishes for food, then when they return to the nest there’s much noise and ‘hugging’. Apparently their wing span reaches approx 2m across, and they’re glorious to see in flight. I couldn’t choose just one photo, so you get a few different shots to look at if you’re interested 🙂
Another colony off the coast (view from the lighthouse)
After the gannets, we drove out to Taradale where we had a splurge of a gourmet lunch at Church Road vineyard … the food was delicious and the glass of Reserve Chardonnay was sublimely out of this world (although at $36 a bottle we opted not to leave with more, however tempting it was!).
Aoraki Smoked Salmon & Asparagus Salad with poached egg, lemon
beurre blanc & kumara crisps – yum!!!
Walnut Tart with quince & maple & whiskey ice cream – yum again!!!
Finally to finish off the afternoon we drove to JJ’s Crafts (BTW Katrina and Kath, it’s now moved to 14 Glouchester Street, Greenmeadows), where we picked up some Christmas fabrics and a fabric that will hopefully be suitable to finish the infamous Just Nan’s Evening Star (as to date I’ve been unable to find anything remotely suitable locally – the colours in the stitching are just very difficult to match). I also picked up a packet of rustic bells after seeing them on Kath’s Christmas tree.
Unfortunately we ran out of time to visit Heirlooms, but that will definitely be first on the list for the next visit! 😀
As we’ d had a full-on day, and a big dinner at lunchtime, we headed back to the motel to have light nibbles before bed, before we returned home the next day.