Across the Ditch in 2012: A Little Bird Told Me

Sunday was a better day and we had considered driving out to the wetlands that we’d passed on our way in on Friday. Browsing through brochures at reception we found one for Orokonui Ecosanctuary and decided to try it instead. Excellent choice!

This sanctuary has 300 hectares enclosed in pest proof fencing and they believe they have now excluded all pests such as rats, mice and possums, have eliminated most of the introduced plant species and are regenerating with natives.

To help ensure you don’t take any pests in with you, there is a double gate system. Once in through the first gate you must open and shake all bags. Hopefully no small vermin like mice will run out. I guess it does happen, otherwise there’d be no need for that system.

We didn’t see a wild kaka (which are, apparently, there) but we did see paradise ducks, tui, bellbirds, brown creepers as well as some introduced finches – impossible to keep the birds out. We also heard a rifleman, fantails and tomtits. The 1-hour guided walk we took was excellent and our guide explained many of the native plants as well as birds and other animals. We were allowed to sample some berries and the she had some leaves for us to sample as well.

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And the Easter Orchid was flowering. Well, it was Easter, after all.

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Who knew that kiwi poo smells like acrylic paint? I’m still just a little sceptical about this. Maybe they put little blotches of white paint around every morning then laugh at the tourists as they grovel to sniff the “poo”. But maybe it’s true. Anyway, we took our turn at grovelling.

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We were very impressed with this sanctuary. Had we known how big it was we would have planned a whole day here. Ah well, there’s always next time.

We had lunch at a crowded café at Port Chalmers before spending a couple of hours at the Otago Museum where history and culture and well presented. Like so many museums before and since … not enough time to appreciate everything so we just focused on a couple of areas.

Tonight was our anniversary dinner at Two Chefs. We’ll forgive them for not opening on Monday because the meal was so very good. Stu’s entrée was pan fried calves liver, main was duck and panacotta with burnt caramel ice cream and a brandy snap for dessert. Mine was rabbit terrine, lamb breast and crema catalana (the Spanish version of crème brûlée.) All of it delicious.

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