Having just returned from several weeks campervanning as far south as Hanmer Springs, I thought it timely to share some of our experiences and observations. I’ll start by declaring that I am going to sing the praises of Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary. It has become clear what a great asset we have.
Our trip was a mix of activities but included a reasonable amount of time walking tracks in the Lewis Pass and Victoria Forest Park areas. The range of available tracks was vast and the scenery outstanding. Imagine breaking out through the tree line to the snow-covered peaks with views to the surrounding mountain ranges. It was absolutely stunning! But what was missing? Birdsong.
The walk to Lake Daniells was a round trip of 17kms. I can recommend it to anyone of reasonable fitness with six hours to spare. A stunning trek through beech forest with plenty of natural regeneration. Maybe it was the cold, maybe it was a bit damp, but it was definitely quiet. Walking in the Hanmer Forest with several of my granddaughters was great. However, apart from the chatter of the girls, it was quiet. On some tracks and in some campsites, we were accompanied by fine specimens of toutouwai (New Zealand robin). They were extremely friendly and very healthy looking. However, they were not accompanied by very many other noisy species. Yes, there was the occasional tui, kererū and even a few korimako (bellbird). But not many.
Without over-analysing why the tracks we walked lacked the birdsong, it did emphasise what a great place Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary is. Have you ever walked through the Ecology Bush without being accompanied by the sounds of more birds than you have time to identify? There will always be calls from tīeke (saddleback) or korimako to cheer you up. If you’ve never walked through the Ecology Bush, it is time you did.
Maybe it is the benefit of the predator-proof fence and the extensive pest control work done at the sanctuary. Maybe it is the climate. The quality of vegetation seemed on a par. Whatever it is, we have a great sanctuary that is accessible to the public. It provides a great opportunity for anyone to experience what all of New Zealand bush should be like.
I’m not alone in my observations. We get feedback from many Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary visitors who comment positively about our birds and their songs. In the words of a recent park visitor on a comment card submitted by them, “We saw and heard more birds here in 24 hours than we have in three months in New Zealand.”
Roger Grove, Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary Society