Endangered Dotterels and Chicks on a New Zealand Beach

New Zealand dotterel

Out of the corner of my eye I see little balls of fluff bouncing and hovering across the beach. These baby dotterels stop to forage for food. Camera in hand, I attempt to focus on one of the endangered chicks although its camouflage makes it challenging. As a result of this lack of contrast, I […]

Xanthospermous – #AtoZ Postcards of New Zealand

Kowhai - the unofficial flower of New Zealand is a Xanthospermous as it has yellow seeds

X is for xanthospermous . . .  meaning having yellow seeds. Practical Information:  Kowhai is often considered to be the national flower of New Zealand, although officially, the country doesn’t have a national flower. It is not uncommon in summer to see Tui drunk in the trees (or falling out) after drinking the Kowhai nectar. […]

Penguin – #AtoZ Postcards of New Zealand

Little Blue Penguin (ferry penguin) in New Zealand

P is for penguin . . .  or precious.   Practical Information:  Native to New Zealand these little blue penguins are fairly common on New Zealand coasts and also found in southern Australia. They are the world’s smallest penguin, standing just over 25cm (10 inches) and weighing only about a kilogramme (2.2 pounds). They are […]

Mob of Sheep – #AtoZ Postcards of New Zealand

Mob of sheep at Shakespear Park, Auckland New Zealand

M is for a mob of sheep . . .  or maa Practical Information:  A group of sheep is called a mob. (More specifically, a mob of sheep is “a group or cohort of sheep of the same breed that have run together under similar environmental conditions since the previous shearing.”) In New Zealand, a mob […]

Kaka – #AtoZ Postcards of New Zealand

Kaka, a native forest parrot of New Zealand

K is for kaka. Practical Information:  The kākā is a large forest parrot found on the North Island, South Island and Stewart Island.  With between 1,000 and 5,000 remaining, they are considered nationally vulnerable. Generally considered diurnal, they are also active in a full moon or on fine weather evenings. Often heard before they are seen, they make a […]

Flowers – #AtoZ Postcards of New Zealand

Flowers seen at the Auckland Domain Wintergardens in Auckland New Zealand

F is for flowers . . .  or fragrant. Practical Information:  I took this photo in the Wintergardens on the Auckland Domain. It is a Salpiglossis from their Royale mix series. New Zealand, being a relatively isolated island, has one of the richest bio-diverse flora on earth offering a wide range of flowers, with 80% of flora being native. […]

Endangered Takahe – #AtoZ Postcards of New Zealand

Critically Endangered Takahe on Tiritiri Matangi

E is for endangered. Practical Information:  Now classified as critically endangered, the takahe were once thought of as extinct until they were rediscovered in the Murchison Mountains (Fiordland) on the South Island in 1948. Takahe are flightless birds found only in New Zealand. They display their wings during courtship or as a show of aggression. Takahe are […]

Baby Lambs – #AtoZ Postcards of New Zealand

Spring lambs in Shakespear Park, Auckland, New Zealand

B is for baby lambs . . .  or baaa. Practical Information:  New Zealand has the highest density of sheep per unit area in the world. It has more sheep than people. In fact, the country is home to nearly 4.5 million people and 30 million sheep. Springtime is lambing season, and the hills all over the country […]

Arataki: Gateway to the Subtropical Rainforest in Auckland

Arataki Visitors Centre in the Waitakere Ranges, Auckland, New Zealand

Arataki Visitor Centre is the gateway to the Waitakere Ranges, the subtropical rainforest that is a half-hour drive from downtown Auckland. Here we found ourselves surrounded by the rugged natural beauty one expects to see in New Zealand. The landscape changed rapidly in the 30 minute drive and with windows down, I enjoyed the fragrant aromas of the rainforest. to […]

Gumdiggers Park: A New Zealand Wonder Worth Visiting

Ancient kauri log estimated to be 100k-150K old at Gumdiggers Park in Northland New Zealand

Gumdiggers Park is an authentic piece of New Zealand history. It takes about an hour to explore and is a worthwhile stop if heading to the top of the North Island. It is home to the oldest non-fossilized wood found on earth. I’ll be honest, when we first saw Gumdiggers Park on the map, we worried it would […]

Yellow Eyed Penguins in New Zealand: World’s Rarest Penguin

The yellow eyed penguin is considered the world's rarest penguin. Photo in New Zealand

We stood quietly in the trench, a hiding hut for humans. Here we waited, and then watched as yellow eyed penguins headed to their nesting boxes. It’s important that these endangered birds remain undisturbed. Watching quietly from our hut, we were so well hidden the penguins didn’t know we were there. Their nesting boxes seemed […]

Catlins Rainforest – New Zealand’s Often Missed South Coast

Purakaunui Falls in the Catlins Rainforest, South Island, New Zealand

It’s been eight years since we drove through the Catlins rainforest along the southern coast of New Zealand’s South Island. We have done a lot of traveling since then, yet the Catlins is still one of my favorite spots. Looking at the old photos, two things occur to me, first our girls have grown up […]

Docking Lambs – A New Experience for this City Girl

Docking Lambs in New Zealand

Living on the doorstep of an Auckland Regional Park offers us access to great hiking trails, varied beaches, and farm animals – in this case, sheep and cows. We all know the city girl in me is still intimidated by the cows, even after living in New Zealand for 12 years. No worries, today’s story […]

Wondering Why It’s Called Pink Beach? (Auckland, New Zealand)

Is this really named Pink Beach?

Pink Beach is a destination I had somehow missed until last week. We have set out many times along the Tiritiri track in the general direction, but it’s only accessible at low tide. This time we checked the Auckland tide tables and planned around them. Starting from the Shakespear Park campground we climbed, then passed […]

Photos of Frolicking Adorable Baby Lambs

Adorable baby lambs bouncing through the field in New Zealand

There are hundreds of reasons to visit New Zealand and adorable baby lambs actually shouldn’t be too high on the list. However, I asked last week, and the general consensus was that my readers want more cute lamb photos. These were all shot last week, the first four with my Olympus OM-D Em5 and the last […]

Intimidated by Cows I Climb Over an Electric Fence

Intimidated by Cows I Climb Over an Electric Fence

On part of today’s walk through Shakespear Park in Auckland (New Zealand) hubby and I parallel an electric fence. We were well beyond the paddock that held the adorable black lambs. Escape route gone, my rational mind takes over and I know these cows are not going to harm us. They are used to humans. (Even […]

A Black Sheep in the Family: Baby Lambs in Shakespear Park

Spring lambs at Shakespear Park, Auckland New Zealand includes one black sheep

Black or white, bouncing, bleating, baby lambs make me smile. Despite the chill in the air, this is my favorite time of year to walk in Shakespear Park (A regional park north of Auckland New Zealand). Birthing is just about over and the hills are dotted with happiness. And this year there is a special […]

Intimidated by Cows: How is it a Weekend Travel Inspiration?

Brown cow in a paddock in Shakespear Park, Auckland New Zealand

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I had limited exposure to farm animals.  Why would I?  Farmers farmed, suburban girls  . . . didn’t, so it’s no wonder I am intimidated by cows. On a recent, rather long hike with my daughter, I cringed as I looked over the next paddock gate. I took […]

Photos: Colorful Mushrooms Seen While Hiking in Auckland

Colorful Mushroom in Jaggers Bush, Auckland New Zealand

Last weekend I came upon the most interesting, colorful mushrooms while hiking in Jaggers Bush in Auckland City. Now that I am temporarily grounded, I am really enjoying local discoveries. Jaggers Bush Reserve is located in the Western Springs district of Auckland. We walked on a trail from Meola Reef Reserve to the back entrance […]

Are Ewe Pregnant? Scanning Sheep in New Zealand

Scanning Sheep today - the blue spot means pregnant with a single. At Shakespear Park, New Zealand

It was an unusual start to the day. I was invited out to Shakespear Park where they were scanning nearly 600 ewes (female sheep) in order to determine if they were pregnant with multiples, singles or “empty” (their words, not mine). As they use the same ultrasound equipment that is used on humans in hospitals […]

Dolphins and Whales Are Abundant in Auckland

Leaping dolpins in the Hauraki Gulf, just outside Auckland New Zealand

Every day I look out over the Hauraki Gulf from my home at the end of the peninsula they call Whangaparaoa, meaning “bay of whales.” Yet, until a few days ago when I went out on the Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari boat (AWADS), I had no idea of the abundance of marine mammals living […]

Zealandia, New Zealand Wildlife the Way Nature Intended

Tuatara in the bush in New Zealand

Tucked up over the city of Wellington is Zealandia, an eco reserve reminiscent of the days before humans arrived in New Zealand. A predator proof fence surrounds the sanctuary, creating an “island” within New Zealand’s capital city and allowing birds and other native creatures to live wild as nature intended. In contrast to the Wellington […]

Pied Shag – Bird Watching in New Zealand

Pied shag in Shakespear Park, Auckland New Zealand

New Zealand is currently home to over 170 different types of birds so it’s not surprising that we see interesting birds like the pied shag when we go hiking.  This one was spotted in Shakespear Park, north of Auckland. While I took this shot on the east coast of the North Island, I have previously […]

Photos: Critically Endangered Takahe and Chick in New Zealand

Critically endagered Takahe and chick on Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand

One of the really great things about New Zealand is the birds.  Being an isolated island with no indigenous mammals (except bats), birds flourished, including flightless birds like kiwi and takahe.  Then came the humans, and with them predators – some as stowaways (rats and stouts), others as farm animals or pets.  While many birds […]

Kahikatea Swamp Forest Walk Along Ship Creek in New Zealand

Ship Creek swamp forest near Haast in New Zealand

The west coast of the South Island of New Zealand is nothing short of spectacular. Around every turn there seems to be a rare and hidden treasure. Along Ship Creek we found the ancient Kahikatea Swamp Forest.  It is considered to be New Zealand’s best example of a swamp forest.  I thinks it’s beautiful, even […]