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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Farewell Spit Nature Reserve‏

March 2nd, 2010 · No Comments

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Yesterday was the sort of day that drew me to New Zealand. I took a seven-hour tour of the nature preserve at Farewell Spit. This is the far north end of the South Island, exactly as far south of the equator as Boulder is north.

Tour Bus at Cape Farewell

Tour Bus at Cape Farewell

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Captain Cook named the cape when he left New Zealand in 1770. The cape itself is this split rock:

Cape Farewell

Cape Farewell

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The spit is a long and narrow peninsula, just 1km wide at high tide but 10km wide at low tide. It’s 26km long at low tide but extends 33km at low tide. Much of it is simply sand. Dunes. Some of them are 25 meters high. But the mud flats support many fish, which support many birds.

A tour bus is the only way into the nature preserve where thousands if not millions of migratory waders come from the arctic tundra the eat and breed. At least 90 species summer here, according to the tour guide.

This godwit is one of the most remarkable. They migrate every year from north of the arctic circle, flying about 12,000km nonstop — the longest journey of any land birds in the world.

A Godwit

A Godwit

Seven Cormorants

Seven Cormorants

A Pair of Black Oyster Catchers at Work

A Pair of Black Oyster Catchers at Work

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A Black-Backed Gull in Flight

A Black-Backed Gull in Flight

Four Pied Oyster Catchers Take a Walk

Four Pied Oyster Catchers Take a Walk

A Black-Backed Gull in Flight

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Just before sunset I climbed one of the tallest sand dunes. This view over the spit to Golden Bay was my reward.

Golden Bay from a Sand Dune

Golden Bay from a Sand Dune

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Well after sunset we stopped to view the moon rising. I wasn’t sure if a photo in this meager light was possible without my tripod. But I boosted the ISO to 3200 (normally I shoot at 100) and hand-held my camera for 0.3 seconds (normally I don’t trip less that 1/60th of a second). Somehow it worked.

The Full Moon Rising Capped My Tour of Farewell Spit

The Full Moon Rising Capped My Tour of Farewell Spit

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On my drive to where I met the bus in Collingwood the rain came down rather heavily — not an auspicious start. But the weather cleared as the day went on and my visit to Farewell Spit was everything that I wanted it to be.

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