Monday, June 17, 2013


The Chatham Archipelago consists of one large island and numerous smaller islands and rocky islets. Only two of the islands are inhabited. They represent New Zealand's eastern territory. The islands were originally settled by East Polynesians (either directly or via New Zealand as the evidence supports some contact there). In the 1400's, the population became isolated and interestingly developed its own culture. The islands were discovered by Europeans in the 1790's. Sealers and settlers followed and then in the 1830's, Maoris from New Zealand invaded, killing and enslaving many of the indigenous people. The impact of the original settlers, the Europeans and later the Maori people on the native flora and fauna was disastrous. Introduced animals, hunting, fires and island clearing wiped out many species of endemic birds. Fortunately, a number survived on the offshore islands in the archipelago. 

Late on the evening of DAY 14 of our Birding Down Under Voyage, we hope to reach the Chatham Islands and cruise along the south coast into the archipelago near Waitangi. The south coast is where the only known population of the Taiko, Magenta Petrel, breeds. They are attempting to establish a new population of the Chatham Island Petrel in a predator free area. Past voyages have seen both Taiko and Chatham Island Petrel in this area. Cross fingers, that we shall see these two extremely rare seabirds. We are at anchor this evening.

On DAY 15 of our Birding Down Under Voyage, we shall visit one of the original private reserves established by a local family on the south coast of the main island where there is a good chance to see the endemic Chatham Island Pigeon and Warbler. The pigeon was close to extinction until recently, and is now in good numbers. We will travel by local bus to the reserve. The road takes us through developed farmland where we will undoubtedly see numerous introduced species, and possibly the Weka. Near our landing in Waitangi there is a good chance of seeing the endemic and critically endangered, Chatham Island Shag.

This evening, we cruise back along the south coast for another opportunity to see the Taiko and Chatham Island Petrel. 
Debi Shearwater

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