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OKURA Walkway first day trip of 2020! - by Imogen

2 Feb 2020 8:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

It's a bit of a book, but you'll see why.

We keep hearing that the Okura Walkway is closed, but as many are now aware, it's been open quite a while, just with a new less trodden entrance.

We all meet at the large carpark in Ara Weiti Road, ready to hit the trail. It takes about 20 minutes to walk through the towering Gum tree grove track to the historic Dacre Cottage that dates back to 1848 & the big red shed!

http://www.dacre.org.nz/

As usual there are a pair of Dotteralls lurking around further down the shell-banked beach.


As the tide was ebbing out, we headed north up and over the picturesque cliff top track towards Stillwater, with glistening vistas across Karapiro Bay below and moving past some impressively large, old Puriri and Pohutukawa trees.

* https://bit.ly/2Ru3YCV

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrosideros_excelsa

Dropping back down on to the foreshore, the tide is slowly ebbing out, just enough to walk around the edge of the bay without the occasional tip of toes in very shallow, cooling water. Reaching the next shell bank we elect to take the back, higher path so we don't disturb the Dotterall's and Oyster Catchers in their fenced off area. At the back of the shell bank there is normally a pooled area of stagnant water with dead Mangrove stems protruding that usually make for striking photos and reflections, but it's been fairly dry so the water level is much lower than usual. Still interesting photos though.


The last trot to Stillwater is easy, dry as a bone. No mud as their can be on the flat area during winter. A brief stop at the park in Stillwater and we're retracing our steps with a variation along the spit below the big damaged, old gnarled Pine and Macrocarpa's ravaged by the winds.

As we round the spit after early lunch, the tide has gone out quite a long way already and to our absolute delight, not just a couple of Dotterall pairs, but literally many dozens out foraging further out on the wet sand!!! We estimate about 70 or more in this area. Wow, just wow! Plus a lot of Oyster Catchers and Pied Stilts. Never, ever seen so many Dotterall's together in one place, not a common occurrence.


We admire from well back so not to bother them. But unfortunately a fisherman and his family, their little charmer of a child started chasing the poor birds! So one of our group yelled at top voice to stop the kid. Had to twice to stop the kid. Disturbing!

We carry on along the damp sand across the bay, back from the eroding cliffs, past Dacre Cottage and yet again one of our group had to yell at a little brat with it's family as the kid was climbing into the signed, roped off area where the Dotterall's nest! Our disappointment wains in the second group of people with no respect for the wildlife, with another wow! Yet another big group of Dotterall's out digging in the wet sand, and a big group of Canda Geese with babies. Gorgeous!

Not bothered by us as we're a long way back from them.


Making the most of the low tide, we move our way south on the shimmering wet sands, still on low tide around the end of the headland, and more Dotterall's! We walk around to the next shell bank and note that the normal track entrance is still fenced off (due to Kauri Dieback) and we respectively stay out as planned and back track on the foreshore to Dacre Cottage.

Absolutely awesome day! Blown away by the numbers of birds, that are obviously enjoying less people to the area and what a pity none of our group had big cameras with us today to capture all the wildlife in photos.

The Council Park Ranger and DOC have been notified of the large numbers of birdlife and the disturbances we sited, so hopefully all the birds all stay so we can all enjoy them from a safe distance.


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