Blumine Island / Oruawairua


Blumine Island can be found in the outer reaches of the Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui, in the Marlborough Sounds at the northern end of New Zealand's South Island. This stunning predator-free island was also used in WWII, where gun emplacements were built for protection. The big concrete structures can still be found on the island, and are surrounded now by the regenerated forest, and often a cheeky weka or two seeing what snacks you may have brought with you. 

While we knew this island was home to a variety of native species, there was one in particular we had our mind set on seeing - the orange fronted kakariki (kakariki karaka). I have spent the past few years working closely with these birds, and have yet to see one in the wild. With only 300 -450 remaining, you really do have to plan for an opportunity to even hear one, let alone see one. This is where E-ko Tours in Picton came in! We booked the day trip to visit Blumine Island, with a stop over at Motuara Island in the afternoon (next blog post). We had such a stunning morning on the boat heading out, spying a variety of shag species including the spotted shag and rare king shag, a species with only 700 individuals and the furthest north you could spot them. 

After landing on Blumine we realised we were the only ones on the island, something which was quite a privilege in itself. A weka greeted us off the boat and proceeded to check us out quickly before heading back to its snack, a tasty goat head that had washed up... after getting over the yuckiness of the wekas treat, we head up to the toilets where apparently the kakariki were known to hang out. Not a peep was heard! However I did find a long wing feather just off the path, so knowing they had been there was honestly just as exciting! 

We had a few hours on the island, so we set off on the main path to the emplacements, hoping to spy some of the wildlife on the way. It wasn't long before our first south island saddleback came down for a chat and we heard the kakariki. A quick dart through the trees was all we managed to spot, but we had seen them! Along the path we encountered more weka, tomtits kereru, tui, fantails and bellbirds. So many bellbirds! After a quick morning tea at the end emplacement and being entertained by a weka, we set off back along the path where we heard another kakariki. This time, after standing still, we noticed a few man-made pieces and structures that indicated we may be in a nesting space! After hearing a few more calls we finally sighted a pair of orange fronted kakariki (day made!).