Kidnapping Gannets

Cape Kidnappers has 2 things that make it one of the main tourist attractions in Hawke’s Bay – Great and unique scenery, and Gannets. You may recall I saw some Gannets out in Muriwai, on the west coast of New Zealand. Cape Kidnappers is a much larger spot for Gannets during nesting season, which is approaching now.

The thing about getting to Cape Kidnappers? You can only go at certain times, determined by the tide. The day I went, I had to start my walk at 815am. The DOC estimated time for the hike there and back was 4-5 hours, which for once, proved to be about right since it was 16km round trip, including some good uphills at the far end. Since I’m usually up before 7am anyways, this wasn’t too big a deal though.

The walk started easily enough, though I had to run between waves in a few sections where the tide was still high. Other than that, I made progress quickly. You didn’t want to walk too close to those cliffs – rocks frequently came tumbling down. I heard and saw a few – nothing that would have caused injury, but the potential existed. The first major stop along the hike was the Black Reef:

Here was the first, small Gannet colony. This one was busy building a nest.

Shortly after the Black Reef colony, I got my look at my final destination: Cape Kidnappers.

For the last 30 minutes of the 2 hour hike out there you leave the beach and head inland…and upwards.

Looking back at some of my walk along the beach and my climb.

Finally, the famous view.

Pretty much everything AFTER the beach is actually currently closed to the public right now. The Gannets are having their mating and egg laying period, and to keep tourists away they post signs saying the hill and such are closed. I went anyways, just making sure to keep a good distance between myself and the Gannets. Sheep were far closer than I. From the previous picture, behind me, there is actually a large Gannet colony. I didn’t venture close to it – when it IS open to the public, you can usually wander within a meter of the birds. I came more for the hike than the birds though, and glad to have made the effort. Since I was already doing something prohibited, I crossed another fence line and moved downwards a bit more towards the end of Cape Kidnappers.

I didn’t want to go further than this though, there is another large Gannet colony ahead that only researchers are supposed to have access to. But I could get a good view of them starting to make their nests.

Much like a shopping mall parking lot the weekend before Christmas, this place will be jam packed when the proper time comes – which would be in a few weeks. For now, just the early birds are here picking out their favourite spot.

Having had enough of the smelly birds, I started my hike back. A couple final look at Cape Kidnappers.

Back at Black Reef, the landscape was quite different.

Another Gannet, there were quite a few to choose from.

There was even a dorky looking seagull nearby that wanted some attention.

Finally, the look at the walk I still had ahead of me to get back to my car.

When I got back to my car after my 4.5 hours of hiking, I discovered something that hadn’t happened to me before – my car wouldn’t start. Dead. More specifically, the battery was dead. Some idiot left the lights on. Duh. Thankfully, this was NOT the most remote of places, there were several cars nearby. None (including mine), had jumper cables. About an hour later another car pulled up, they had jumper cables, and gave me a friendly boost. Off I went, back to town, cursing my own stupidity. But, lesson learned: The warning chime when you leave your lights on and pull the keys out? My car doesn’t have that. :)

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