Monthly Archives: May 2013

Black Fantail


Fantails are small native birds that live in New Zealand. Black fantails are one type of these. The other more common type is called a pied fantail. They are brownish-black and white.

It has a small body, smaller than a sparrow’s. It’s body and everything is 16cm long. It has a tail like a fan. The tail is 8cm long. It is all black apart from white spots behind its eyes. It has a small, black beak and black eyes.

It’s fast. It jumps everywhere. When it flies, it darts around everywhere. It has to move, can’t stay still.

It lives in the New Zealand bush, forestry and on farms. One quarter of the fantails in the South Island are black. Only 1% of fantails are black in the North Island. No black fantails live on the Chatham Islands. They don’t live in frosty areas, like Central Otago.

It eats berries and fruit when they want but they love insects. They mostly eat insects.

Their babies get very hungry so they get fed every 10 minutes. The babies are ready to leave the nest in two weeks and a day(15 days). Each summer, a fantail will lay a clutch of 3-4 eggs three or four times. This means a pair of fantails will raise 12-16 chicks every summer.

Their main predators are cats, rats and mynas. It’s main predator is the rat. To protect the chicks, the female pretends she has a broken wing or that she is injured. This lures the predator away from the chicks. While the predator is chasing the female, the male attacks it from behind.

* Babies of a black fantail aren’t always black.
* Fantails don’t live long. The oldest one found was only 3 years old.
* There are fantails in other countries too – Java, Australia. These are like cousins of the NZ fantail.

Black fantails are similar to the normal fantail but harder to find. If you see one, you are fortunate.

Emelia Ruddell
Source: KCC (Kids Conservation Club) website.

I saw a black fantail in the Buller Gorge after crossing the longest swingbridge in NZ. I was amazed and wasn’t certain it was a fantail until I saw it’s fan tail. Then I found some more information on the internet. I took the photo. It was hard to get because fantails are really fast.

Captain Cook Statues, revisited



So, yes the one on the top is the imposter. They erected the statue for the centennial in 1969, even though lots of people said it couldn’t be Captain Cook because the uniform was wrong. It turns out they were right. It is some random Italian guy and to this day they don’t know who he is. The twin of this statue (exact replica) is outside Dominion Breweries in Newmarket, Auckland (Mum thinks she’d passed it on Khyber Pass). Some guy from DB bought the statues, donated one to Gisborne for the centennial and kept one for DB. It was all a bit embarrassing but by the time they were certain, it was too late and now it’s become part of Gisborne ‘folklore’.


So here’s a quick recap of where we’ve been:
After Ohau Stream, we went to Hanmer Springs. After Hanmer, we went to Christchurch. Then we drove back up to Richmond through Lewis Pass. After Richmond we went to Nelson and the WOW museum. WOW stands for World Of Wearable Arts. It was awesome. I couldn’t believe the things they’d used to make clothes – possums, hedgehogs – yes, real ones, but dead – telephones, some even glowed in the dark. After Nelson we went over Takaka Hill to Pohara Beach. We stayed at Pohara for a few nights before driving down to Cape Foulwind, near Westport. On the way to Cape Foulwind we went to some limestone cave called the Ngarua caves. These were at the top of the Takaka Hill. They had fossilised moa bones, kiwi bones and… guess what. There were even possum bones! Before we got to Cape Foulwind, Mum, Dad and Emelia went over the longest swingbridge in the Southern Hemisphere. It was 160 metres long. I don’t like swingbridges over rivers because all I can think of is falling into the rushing water below. While we were going through the Buller Gorge, we drove under a huge piece of granite that was overhanging the road, called Hawks Crag. It was awesome. Yesterday we went out to Oparara Basin. There are 3 limestone arches there – the Moria Gate Arch, the most beautiful one, the Oparara limestone Arch, the biggest (200m long, 47m wide and 39m high) and the one at the Honeycomb caves. We didn’t go to the Honeycomb caves because it would have cost $75 each!! The Moria Arch was my favourite because it was the most beautiful. To get into it, you had to clamber down a tiny hole then you were under the arch. Mum’s favourite arch was also the Moria Gate Arch. She thought it was spectacularly beautiful. Dad’s favourite was the same as Mum’s. The Oparara Basin is home to the endangered Whio-whio(Blue Duck). We heard a Whio but didn’t see it. All of the rivers here look like cold tea and the rapids look like coke floats. GRACE šŸ™‚

Cape Palliser

Seal pups at Cape Palliser

Cape Palliser is the most Southern place in the North Island. The seal colony is on the rocks right beside the road, below the Cape Palliser lighthouse. The pups play in this little lagoon where the waves won’t bash them against the rocks but they are still in the sea. There were some adult seals placed around like lifeguards. They were telling each other that we were there and keeping an eye on us to make sure we weren’t a threat. Emelia, Dad and I got scared by a seal that was hiding behind a bush. I named the seal behind the bush the hide-and-go-seek seal.

Ngawi bulldozers

On the way to the Cape, you pass through a small fishing town called Ngawi. The tractors and bulldozers here are used to launch the boats off the beach. The boats are humungous. The bulldozers are painted bright colours, not just green and yellow. Some of them had eyes painted on them.


Seals at Ohau Stream


We arrived in the South Island on Wednesday. On the Kaikoura Coast, there is a seal colony. If you walk for about 10 mins up the Ohau Stream near there, you find a waterfall. At the bottom of the waterfall there are seal pups diving, flipping and having fun. They go there to play while their mums are at sea looking for food. The pups stay at the waterfall for about 4 days then they go back down to the sea to meet their mums for some food. The pups have to climb over rocks and rapids to get there and back . It looked like pretty hard work to me. We got really close to the seals in the Cape Palliser colony on Tuesday. They made lots of noise and it was a bit frightening at times.. Emelia.

Castle Point

The waves crash against the steep rocksĀ 

It draws back, you see the wonderful colours

Dark blue, then jadeĀ green

You canĀ see the sea spray evaporate.

By Emelia Ruddell

Castle Point Lighthouse

Meet Feathers The New Zealand Falcon! He will be travelling with us. Today Feathers and the rest went to Castle Point. We walked up to the lighthouse. It was an awesome view. The lighthouse is north of Christmas Bay. We took lots of photos. Then we walked down onto the rocks below the lighthouse. We got wet by spray off the rocks. That is all that Feathers and I thought you needed to know. Oh and we went up to the tip of Castle Point. It was steep. Bye G & F