Steam train at Whangarei
We’re in the small town of Whangarei today, gathering local information, updating our blog and searching for a famous kiwi called Sparky. We called in at the Native Bird Recovery Centre where he lives – apparently the only tame kiwi in New Zealand (we’re talking birds here) – but the centre is closed at the weekend. We avoided the expensive museum next door and opted for the free bush walk around the grounds, visiting a traditional homestead and bird-spotting. I was excited to see a pair of Kakariki (yellow-crowned parakeet, only found in New Zealand) and lots of Pukeko. We’ve also seen several Tui, Kereru (NZ pigeon), a flock of dotterel on the beach and a number of other birds we haven’t managed to identify, even with our newly-purchased bird book! We’ve also seen lots of possum and weasel traps, that feast on the ground-dwelling native birds. Sometimes our surroundings seem so similar to Scotland, then we’ll drive past a load of palm trees or a cluster of white-painted timber houses. We’ll spend another night on the East coast, South of Bay of Islands, before heading inland to explore some forest regions.

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