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Motueka & Abel Tasman National Park area

     Motueka Coastal and Inlet Walkways


Motueka beach Motueka tidal lagoon

Shorefront at Motueka

Tidal lagoon
White-faced Heron

White-faced Heron

In ananticlockwise tour of the South Island, one of the first localities to visit after Kaikoura on the North East coast is the North Western tip, which includes the tiny Abel Tasman National Park. As a base we chose Motueka, which is just a short drive from the water taxis of the national park, and also a town small enough to have some interesting walks of its own. The walk we made on the first day included both, starting at our accommodation on Thorp Street, walking North and then East to Raumanuka Reserve, then the full length of the coastal walkway to Motueka marina, then including part of the Inlet Walkway to view part of the tidal lagoons.

Walking North along Thorp Street, the housing quickly clears to reveal open fields with small creeks and wet areas, which seem to be teeming with Swamphen. In amongst these are smaller numbers of Paradise Shelduck, and a small creek near to the road had a pair of Australian Shoveler. The only Little Black Cormorant was perched on a fence overlooking a small pool in the fields, and a Swamp Harrier quartered overhead. The road meets Staples Street, which then heads to the East, meeting the coastal part of the pathway at the Ramanauka Reserve. A track cuts through some trees to overlook some tidal mudflats, which were exposed during our visit at low tide. Most obvious birds were a group of 9 Royal Spoonbills roosting on a spit in the centre of the flats. Towards the neck of the tidal stream were large numbers of South Island Oystercatchers, with a sprinkling of Variable Oystercatchers in front of them. The regular appearances of Sacred Kingfisher were kicked off also at this spot with what looked like a family of 7 birds feeding from exposed dead logs, and a trio of Pied Stilts were in one of the small pools next to the beginning of the coastal path.

The length of the coastal part of the trail was an enjoyable walk, but not over heavy with birding pleasures. White-faced Herons and Sacred Kingfishers continued to be constant, and the first of a handful of Tui were here. It wasnít until the Inlet Walkway that a bit more avian interest was reinstated. That being said, the low tide and exposed mud/sand wasnít exactly engorged with birds. Of most interest was a small island in the centre of the inlet, which had around 45 Royal Spoonbills, and even more Pied Stilts. Outside of these, a solitary Caspian Tern making its way towards town was the only other bird on interest. The walkway crossed Old Wharf Road to run alongside the recreation grounds, and a field just to the North of the grounds held a solitary Cape Barren Goose amongst the multitude of Swamphens and Paradise Shelducks. While there was a temptation to look at this as an occasional winter vagrant from Australia, the less exciting truth was that it was more likely to be an escaped or released captive bird. Shame.

A couple of days later, the rest of the Inlet Walkway was completed, and also the field containing the Cape Barren Goose revisited. This time, the same bird was in almost the same spot, with an additional 2 birds at the corner of the field. 3 birds together made the likelihood of a true vagrant even less so, although the status of now released birds breeding and forming a sustainable population had to be considered. The small section of the Inlet Walkway was the shore of the tidal mud on the western edge, and opposite that covered the first time. This visit did throw up a few more birds at the muddy edges. Small groups of ducks turned out to be Australian Shoveler and Grey Teal. In addition to the now expected Pied Stilts, a group of 30 or so Bar-tailed Godwits were a little further into the mud, with one in almost full breeding plumage. In a park opposite, a quartet of New Zealand Scaup were with Mallard. There was also a Pacific Duck with a bird which showed the characteristics of a hybrid Mallard/Pacific Duck Ė they donít make things any easier!

Masked Lapwing Pied Stilt Pukeko

Masked Lapwing

Pied Stilt Australian Purple Swamphen
Sacred Kingfisher Royal Spoonbill Cape Barren Goose

Sacred Kingfisher

Royal Spoonbill Cape Barren Goose
Shoveler Grey Teal Pacific Duck

Australasian Shoveler

Grey Teal Pacific Black Duck

Home

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Content

Introduction

Singapore

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Motueka

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St Island Dunedin

Species list

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