Maud Island

Maud Island
Maud Island

We had the rare opportunity to take a (long) trip out to Maud Island yesterday. There are public tours there a few days out of the year. Once infested by mice, it was declared a predator free island and critters like geckoes, skinks, a super rare frog, weta and birds are living happily there. We had to undergo quarantine procedures before boarding the boat and also before setting foot on the island. Shoes, bags and clothing had to be scanned for any dirt, seeds and rodents (luckily nobody brought along any). Then once on the dock of the island, we had to step in a bin of disinfectant to make sure our shoes were clean again.

Leaving from Havelock, about 20 minutes from home, the group of 26 people, all locals and some Ozzies headed out onto the Marlborough Sounds under cloudy skies. This old boat caught my eye among the others.

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Setting out onto the Sound, not many boats were out which is typical. We went by some mussel farms and were fortunate to see this Gannet colony up close. Fluffy down floated around in the air, as can be seen in the photos.

Marlborough Sound house

Marlborough Sound

Gannet colony Pelorus Sound

Gannet colony Pelorus Sound

Gannet colony Pelorus Sound

Gannet colony Pelorus Sound

Gannet colony Pelorus Sound

Gannet colony Pelorus Sound

Once we approached Maud, the rangers and their kids waited for us to arrive. The picture below was actually when we were leaving for anyone who notices the change in the water depth compared to the one below it!

Maud Island dock

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Maud Island ranger’s kids in pink and blue

After a short welcome, we walked the track to an area where they gave a presentation about the invertebrates found on the island, with live samples for us to hold!

Maud island sign

Among the critters were geckoes and a skink. One of the geckoes hangs out in the flax and I bet you’d hardly be able to see it.

Maud island skink
Maud island skink

 

Maud island gecko

Maud island gecko
Maud island flax gecko

Then there was the weta. I’ve never seen one in person and they were CREEPY!!! People apparently in line wanting to hold them. The female has a large ovipositor that looks like a long horn that she deposits her eggs into the ground with.

Maud island weta

dead weta
Dead weta
dead weta
Dead weta

Then there was the Maud Island frog. The only place in the world you can see it. It’s rare in that it actually births live frogs, with the tadpoles forming inside the egg and the mother carries them on her back. They’re also the longest living frog…up to 40 years! They don’t move far during their lives only spanning an area of 30 square metres!

Maud island frog

There were also these creepy weevils that looked like little blood suckers!

Maud island weevil
Maud island weevil

After the talk we walked to the WWII gun emplacement and storage areas. There was a blue penguin nesting box in one of them which was odd. We even saw a blue penguin swimming in the Sounds on our way back home.

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Some lovely views along the track and needless to say, very peaceful except for the Tui birds singing their strange song.

Maud island view

maud island track

I loved this giant fern leaf about to uncurl. It was about the size of my hand.

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This was the home of the rangers, with a small strawberry patch and I believe a large fig tree in their yard.

Maud island ranger house

We headed back out on the boat and came across an island with this toilet which goes to show the Kiwi humour!

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Back at the harbour, some lenticular clouds that look like a UFO.

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lenticular cloud marlborough sound havelock

It was a great day although it turned cold on the way back and the long 3+ hour boat ride was less than comfortable.

As an update to the hedgehog I mentioned in my last post, we found there are 3 babies living under the house. I haven’t seen the mother again and am afraid she may have been killed in the road so the babies are on their own.

baby hedgehog

 

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Cute hoglet foot while having a feed.

You know me…I cut up some small pieces of raw chicken and fed and watered the first one I found and also put him (or her) on the scale, weighing in at 126 grams. That’s still pretty young to be without mom, but right on the edge of it. I then found a second one the day after who had lost its left eye, so I’ve dubbed that one “Lefty.” He was almost half the size of the first at 76 grams and was happy to have a feed and some water as well. Once Lefty was put back under the house, the other two came out and they did a little dance around each other which was very sweet and Lefty retired back to the nest while the others searched for food.

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I will continue to supplement their diet if I find them outside to make sure they have a fighting chance and I also put a large mussel shell under the house with some water in it as it’s super dry here and I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry, even if they don’t drink from it. You can check out the video of the first cutie eating below. I love that they’re called hoglets or urchins when they’re small!

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12 thoughts on “Maud Island

  1. TV January 15, 2017 / 11:33 am

    This so cool. Love sweet hoglets!

    • StephieD January 15, 2017 / 2:35 pm

      Girl, you’d fall in love. I just found another one out on the yard today and fed that one too. It’s snoozing in a pillowcase. Not sure if it’s #3 or one I haven’t seen yet. When I put it back under the house, we’ll see who comes out to greet ‘m. This one weighed 97g before feeding and 110 after.

  2. Camille January 15, 2017 / 12:02 pm

    What an extraordinary life you’ve found for yourself!

    • StephieD January 15, 2017 / 2:34 pm

      It is good to be here, regardless of how much I complain about things. I have to keep the big picture in perspective. I often think about looking back on my time here and feeling lucky I got to do it.

  3. Debbie January 15, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    This sums up life in NZ beautifully! Funny what is extraordinary to some is normal to others! (referring to Camille’s comment above). What a shame the sun didn’t come out for you, but the cloud cover would have been perfect for taking photos!

    • StephieD January 15, 2017 / 2:33 pm

      Yes, everything is relative, isn’t it? I have to keep reminding myself though, that I’m privileged to be here and to be able to see things that most people can’t. When we were leaving on the boat, I looked back and said to Andy, “Take a good look, you’ll never see it again.” It was kind of sad to think that, but at least we had the opportunity. One Kiwi woman on the boat said she’s been wanting to see the place for years. I had only heard about it two days before we went. Just goes to show ya!

  4. Anonymous January 15, 2017 / 3:37 pm

    Shame on you for feeding that baby hoglet a chili serrano!!! Shame on you!!!

    • StephieD January 15, 2017 / 3:38 pm

      Lol you’re thinking of YOUR baby brother!! No chili peppers ever came close to my hoglet!!

  5. Janet January 16, 2017 / 12:46 am

    What a compare/contrast – a visit to an island where no one can go and feeding a trio of hoglets in your own back yard…believe me, you are the only one I know who is doing that! These are all such unique experiences. Best wishes to all of you!

    • StephieD January 16, 2017 / 5:17 am

      Yes, it’s quite a life over here! I found hoglet #3 in the yard yesterday so I also fed/watered this one and weighed in at 96g before feeding and 110 after. I believe I’ve now met all of them. It’ll be interesting to see how they react when we meet again. I’m hoping they uncurl faster than before knowing they’re in safe hands 😉

  6. Janet Alward January 16, 2017 / 1:10 am

    So…just wanted you to know.  Carey has also hit the road.  She and her husband Ben quit their jobs and they and their daughter Tess (age 7), two cats (one 20 years old) and a dog are living in an RV and traveling around the US.  They left LA just before Labor Day and so far have visited, Yosemite, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Nevada. Utah, and now are in Colorado.  Basically they are following their interests and the weather and right now that means skiing.  They are home schooling Tess, which is an adventure itself, and Carey is working on a Masters in marketing from Northwestern.  I don’t know what that has to do with anything, but she was about half done when they started, so it seemed reasonable to finish – which, if everything goes as planned, will be this summer. I think there is certainly adventure in seeing so much of the US, but also in learning to live together in such close quarters.  This is certainly a departure from the southern California life they had been living, but they seem to like it because now they are trying to sell their house.  Carey says they are investigating places to settle, and right now Utah and Montana are contenders, but she also points out that it is a big country and as far as I know, there is no time limit to their travels – at first it was one year and now it is two.  I guess eventually, they’ll need to find a middle/high school for Tess – or maybe they just won’t want to live in such close quarters with a pre-teen/teenage girl. Like your mom, I was worried, but I am learning to give that up and trust that they can figure it all out.  I do miss our weekly Skype, but I’m happy to see how well they’re doing when they fit us in. So…and you probably know this…you were probably a leader in a movement against the conventional and toward a more adventurous life.  And I am so happy to get a taste of that from your blog. Best, Janet

    • StephieD January 16, 2017 / 5:15 am

      Wow!! That’s amazing to hear! Hey, I started out saying it will definitely be a year, maybe more but never expected (now almost) four years! Everyone is different so I’m happy that they’re following their hearts and are financially able to do it. They will settle eventually but for now, it’s a great learning experience and it will be great for the kids as well to have done it. Best of luck to all of them, you’ll have to keep me posted on how they’re doing. I’m also flattered that I was able to play some part in it. Sometimes all it takes is one person…that’s sort of how it happened to me too!

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