Maud Island New Zealand
January 2007
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Maud Island is a scientific reserve in the Marlborough Sounds operated by the New Zealand Deprtment of Conservation, and is home to several endemic and critically rare species. It is only open for public tours a few days a year, and we were lucky to get a slot on one of the tours, which leave by boat from Havelock. Along the way we stopped to check ut a mussel farm, which is a HUGE business in this region.
Next stop was the local Gannet colony. The young were getting pretty large and about ready to leave for their "OE" (overseas experience) - they fly to Australia and will not return for a couple of years when they are fully mature.
Here Zane gets up close with a giant Cook Strait Weta. I believe these are the largest insects in the world (by weight. They are totally harmless with the exception of the major "creepo" factor.
Also resident here is the giant flesh-eating snail, one of two varieties of carniverous snail in New Zealand.
There is a resident Kakapo in Maude Island. The Kakapo is the largest parrot in the world, and possibly the rarest as well - there are less than 100 known to exist. They are also flightless and noctournal, so we did not get to see it. Here Zane checks out the Kakapo feeding station. The Kakapo is smart enough to lift the lid to get at the food, which prevents other animals from getting at it.
Maud island is unique in that it has never been overrun by invasive pests such as rats, weasels, stoats etc. Much of the native species here were never wiped out as they were in many areas. Also, this makes it a good spot to place species that can only have a chance of recovery if no such pests exist. It also has a helluva nice view.
We got to see most of the local Takahe population. These birds were though to be extinct for about 100 years and were rediscovered in the Fiordland area about 50 years ago. Maud island has a small but growing population.
After our visit with the critters of Maud island it was onto the boat for our scenic ride back to Havelock.