During the NZ Ornithological Society's AGM several pelagic bird tours were arranged through Albatross Encounter, one being a deep sea probe which was not fully sanctioned by the organisers and therefore considered unauthorised!
The trip (complete with 10 commando birders) left at 7.15am on the 1st of June with the expectation of seeing something unusual and maybe seeing a few lifers.
We headed straight out to 15miles off the Kaikoura Peninsula and stopped for 4 hours driving straight past lots of birds feeding on upwellings, but there was no stopping. We threw out a block of frozen fish liver (a delicacy for pelagics) and waited... it was slow to start with the first visitors being Southern Royal albatross and New Zealand White Capped albatross (shy).
After 2 hours we sighted a Grey-Faced petrel which lifted spirits and was a first for a couple of the guys. The pressure was building with pelagics arriving all the time although nothing different from the usual cast found here in Kaikoura.
4 hours into the tour there were several yelps from the rear of the boat, signifying the arrival of a White-Headed Petrel another first for many on the tour and a first for Albatross Encounter!
After all that excitement we settled for a delicious lunch and then it was time to move on.
We shifted camp twice more and travelling towards the third we sighted a raft of Cape Petrel and in amongst them was an Antarctic Fulmar yet another first for some.
It was an incredibly calm day and the views were spectacular looking back towards the mountains and we also noted 5 separate sperm whales.
We headed into the Amuri Bluffs and then back along the coastine toward the Kaikoura Peninsula to arrive home at 15:40.
A complete list of species spotted were as follows:
New Zealand Whitecapped
Giant (Nothern and Southern)
Cape (Snares and Sub-Antarctic)
I had an extremely enjoyable time with such enthusiastic and knowledgable people and the trip was a real success form my point of view, we are planning another deep sea pelagic trip in late July, depending on demand. If you are interested contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 033196777. Looking forward to the next adventure.
Regards and good birding, Gazza...