Birthday Weekend away

We were very excited to set off on our weekend away, especially after seeing a post on the local 'Whale & Dolphin Watch Wellington' Facebook page that a humpback whale had been seen only a few days before in Island Bay. Naturally we factored this into our plans and set off!

I love Wellington, I have spent many years exploring the shops, cafes and local attractions, but surprisingly I haven't spent much time around the coast. I used to visit the harbor to look for stingrays, but never saw a whale. Just another reason to head back!

South Island of New Zealand

Island Bay birdlife

We stopped at a small parking bay halfway down the coastal road and could not have picked a more perfect spot! The snow peaked mountains of the South Island stood out against the bright blue sky and the birds were flying between the craggy rocks.

Naturally there were black backed gulls and red billed gulls flying around, checking out everyone and what potential snacks they may have. In the rocks you could spot shags and gulls resting, and then Jess spotted a dark grey heron walking along the little island in front of us.

Photo: Jess Flamy

reef heron

Upon further research after spotting the heron, we discovered that this native bird is classed as 'Nationally Endangered', and the population is estimated at only 300-500 birds.

I had seen this bird before in Australia in Mooloolaba, visiting with Dad. I didn't know they could be found here too. Even though we didn't see a whale, this was the highlight of the coastal visit for me!

Below are some of the other birds we saw, including two I didn't expect to see, a caspian tern and a gannet.

Reef Heron

Caspian Tern


Black Backed Gull

Red Billed Gull