Yesterday I hiked the Manawatu Gorge. We hiked for about 4 hours and got to see some beautiful views!
And today my host family took Jenny and me to Pukaha Mount Bruce, a national wildlife centre. We started off looking at the Takahe, a critical species. The Takahe is a flightless bird that was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1948. There are less than 250 left in NZ (and in the world). They mate for life and seem to be very personable birds.
Takahe: feeding time!
Then we learned about the Tuatara, an endangered reptile that resembles a lizard, but whose skeleton says otherwise. It's the only survivor of an extinct group of reptiles that lived during the ages of the dinosaurs. The Tuatara are now only found on predator free islands around NZ.
Tuatara: chillin' as usual
Next, we saw the Kokako! This is a vulnerable species who use song to communicate with eachother and maintain their territory. What's cool about these guys is that birds from different locations have different songs! Even the few birds that are separated at Mount Bruce have their own dialects. This one, named Kahurangi, was wolf whistling at us and saying "Kokako".
I only have a video that won't upload on here sorry.....
Then it was the KIWIS. The Kiwi is the national emblem for New Zealand and is considered to be 70 million years old. It's also considered to be the least 'bird-like' bird in the world as it doesn't have wings and has nostrils at the end of its beak. We were especially lucky to get to see the only known white Kiwi in the world named Manukura. She is not albino, but received the recessive white feather gene from each of her (both brown) parents - extremely rare! Manukura is considered a blessing by the local iwi (tribe) and her name means 'of chiefly status'.
A baby Kiwi! Checking in with the doctor
I also got to feed some Eels today! These Eels are threatened and are NZ's biggest endemic fish. They used to be the main diet of the people of New Zealand. They are fresh water Eels so they're not electric, but they could still bite your finger off! I was really careful to not put my hands in the water.
They looked a lot bigger up close
Aw, here we all are