New Zealand has a diverse landscape and like any country a range of seasons. During our kayaking tour at the Pelorus river, we will see a range of wildlife dependent on the season we are in. Most of the fauna is here for their necessary food sources. We will also see the magnificent flora such as plants, ferns and native timbers.
Tui feed on nectar and insects. They can be seen most of the year catching these insects above the Pelorus river, and/or feeding on the luscious nectar provided by the multitude of flowering natives along the shores
Kingfishers are a rare New Zealand bird and I often hear locals say they have seen very few of them. They are a spectacular bird and can be viewed as often as 40 times on a single river trip - the help of a guide is necessary, as they are often a little hard to identify. The main season to see them is January to March.
Grey Herons are also frequenting the Pelorus river and we see as many as 5 on a river trip. They are a little used to seeing us, so they often stand still and close enough to get a picture if you’re ready. Their season is also January, February and March and fish-dependent. Their food source will determine on which river they spend their long days fishing the shallows beside the rapids, which is where the small fish find the path of least current flow and make their way up the river.
Paradise Ducks raise their young on the Pelorus river, and each year when the parents return they teach their young that we are not a threat to them. We try to give them some space when kayaking past. When these beautiful ducks get big enough they leave the river and fly out to the grain and grasses of Marlborough's farms and wetlands. They are here from the start of spring.
Grey ducks frequent the Pelorus river and can be seen on all of our trips year-round. They are a very fast flying bird and truly wild as they usually never let us closer than 100 meters before they fly away. They always take off down the river then turn and fly back up river above our canoes for a second viewing.
Kereru / Native wood Pigeon
These magnificent birds can be viewed every tour, all year round and feed off the different abundant leaves and flowers the Pelorus river scenic reserve has to offer. One of the wood pigeon's favourite foods is the Kowhai tree's small fresh leaves. With a huge body and small wings they have what is known as a high wing loading, which makes them one of the fastest and most agile birds in New Zealand's forests. They are often seen doing aerobatics high above the river and forest canopy which is spectacular to observe. We see these birds every trip.
Welcome Swallows can be viewed in mid-winter to early spring, on occasion. As they feed on the insects above the water, they are a very fast, agile, small wedge-tailed bird who catch their prey in their beaks - this takes extreme accuracy, without which they would go hungry. They are a sight to behold. As you can imagine the insects weave all over the river, and so do the Welcome Swallows in hot pursuit.
Bell Bird is on the river every trip. These birds are easily heard as they have a high pitched song, but they are not so often seen as they are very shy. They stay mostly out of sight, feeding on the luscious nectar provided by the multitude of flowering natives along the shores.
We hear Bell birds every trip.
Plants, ferns and Native timbers on the Pelorus River
Rimu, Totara and Matai were the three main hardwoods that were removed from the valleys and the surrounding districts by steam engines. They were highly valued and used for building houses, exposed flooring and cabinetry - they all had their favourite uses among the carpenters. We will also see the historic remains of the bridge where the steam engines used to cross the Pelorus river, in order to access the hardwoods.
Silver Fern / Ponga
Silver fern is also known as the Ponga. New Zealand has adopted the silver fern as a significant sporting symbol, and we have named a netball team after it, The silver Ferns. The All Blacks also have the fern/Ponga branded onto their jerseys. We will see plenty of these along the river banks as we journey along the forest river, and they are a beautiful fern to see indeed.
Watercress was once a staple diet for the Maori, and it still is today for many families. Found growing wild around New Zealand's many waterways, watercress likes a constant flow of fresh water to grow in. It can be found and even tasted from a small stream about halfway along our adventure. Famous writer Barry Crump once wrote a book called Wild Pork and Watercress.
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