by Kirsty Nixon
Little River Gallery
Main Road, Little River, Banks Penninsula
We are fortunate to have great friends who have a wonderful island holiday home. We can get away and revel in the isolation, away from the big greyness of the city for a few days. We swim, walk, read, talk, make great food and eat it… and generally kick back. One of the lovely things the island offers is a chance to check back into nature. We cross fingers for playful Dolphins on the boat ride over. We keep our eyes open for Tui, Fantails and the heavy Wood pigeon perched in the Manuka. We meander through steep Fern laden tracks to giant Puriri stands, hoping to sneak a peak of a timid Wallaby around each corner.
Earlier in the year, we went on an adventure to a bird sanctuary island, Tiritiri Matangi, not far from the place we stay. It was a hot, breathtakingly beautiful day on the water. We climbed hills looking down on the pristine water, inspecting the Penguin huts on the way. We saw the giant Takahe, its sheer size in reality, surprising me. We wandered through bush and had a break while watching Tui feeding on special honey bottles. However, the highlight was the utter peace I felt while watching the many many bellbirds flitting in and out of the feeding stations. Their singing was hypnotic. In and out they darted from branch to branch to feeder. Their calls constant and enchanting. While living in the moment, I simply had to record this to take a piece of this back home with me, such was the overwhelming sense of peace it gave me to hear their melodic voices.
On our return back to the home island, we became aware of how birdsong had reduced in the area due to wasps having taken a hold in a small region. We played the birdsong on our phones endeavouring to attract some birds, the silence deafening. I was very aware of how much we miss when we don’t have the melodic voices of birds around us. They enrich our lives in a basic way as we navigate daily life. Their lives simple, unchanged and seemily playful.
Later on that night, while drifting off to sleep, my ears pricked as the Weka woke and began their calls to each other. The Morepork started who-whoo-ing in the trees, their strange hunting call soothing me to sleep.
Although as “Kiwis” we are known for our travel and reaching beyond the horizon, we are so fortunate to have this special place to return to. Our tiny islands, where a short trip can take us to extraordinarily beautiful environments and make very special memories.