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Wine and Birds

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 4 July 2013 | Views [316]

Albatross in flight

Albatross in flight

The reason for stopping in Blenheim is that it is Marlborough wine country!  We booked on a wine tour but Rupert had written us a list of some of his favourite wineries all over New Zealand so when the driver asked if there was anywhere in particular we'd like to go on the tour I handed her the list!  I was thinking she'd include a couple of them but she took us to all of them, which was 8 in total!  Pretty sure its the biggest day wine tasting we've ever done.

It was a really good day and we tasted lots of great wine, most of them are also sold in the Uk as well so we can stock up when we get home!  Of course we bought a few bottles to see us round New Zealand as well.

The next day we drove down to Kaikoura on the East Coast.  This place is famous for all kinds of wildlife watching and its also in a pretty spectacular spot, bordered by snowy mountains on one side and the sea on the other.  It was very cold when we were there and the dolphin watching cruise wasn't going out that day as the weather had been bad and the dolphins weren't hanging around.  Instead we went on the bird trip to see some albatross and we were the only people booked on the trip.  It was a pretty small boat and the waves were quite big but being so open helped to keep away the sea sickness!  The guy took us out a way from the shore, there were a few smaller birds following us.  When we stopped he put out a basket that contained a big ball of fish liver and then the birds all started arriving!

There was a rescued Giant Petrel that came out on the boat with us as it was due to be released.  When we stopped the guy opened the box and let it out onto the water.  Initially it was looking ok but then after it had drifted off a bit it looked like it was struggling - flapping its wings but not getting anywhere.  The guy said that if it looked like it wasn't doing too well then the others would probably start attacking it so then the task was to try and catch it again!  It was a bit tricky but he managed to grab it without getting bitten and it went back in the box to go back to the rescue place.

We sat there for a while watching the birds, including several huge albatross!  There were various different kinds including the biggest one, a Royal albatross.  One female hogged the food, chasing off various others, although the smaller birds and the giant petrels did get a look in.  It was amazing to see these huge birds gliding over the water and they were very curious - some of them just sat bobbing in the water watching us for most of the time we were there.  We tried to spot some seals on the way back but the rock they were usually on was empty.  We were very cold when we got back and feeling a bit odd from the sea sickness tablets but it was worth it!

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