This week we spent 4 days in a town called Opoutere, which lies on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. It was about a 2-hour drive from Quest. It is a super popular holiday spot for many Kiwis. Our hostel was situated right on the beach and the view couldn’t have been more fantastic. Down near the mudflats of the estuary you could see eels at night time (with ample head lights). The eels live there for their whole lives (~70 years!), reproduce a couple of miles upshore, and then die. Their offspring then come back to the same estuary and the process is repeated. Up the street you could see glow worms on the ledges besides the road. They were pretty fascinating.

We took part in a Shellfish Monitoring Survey that benefits the local estuary in Wharekawa Harbor. Each morning we woke up for low tide in order to get our surveying done. We had to dig up a small area of mud and put all of it into a sieve. We then measured each variety of shellfish (cockles, wedges, pipi, etc). Some of our sites had under 10 shellfish while others had over 200! Two of the three days were fantastic weather: nice and sunny, and minimal wind. The other day, however, was miserably cold and WET. It wasn’t the sort of rain that just gets you wet. Nope, it was raw to the bone. Our feet and hands were exposed the whole time, which made it that much worse. We only stayed out for about an hour before the leaders called it quits. It was starting to rain horizontally…

When we weren’t kayaking in the estuary, we hiked up to an old Maori pa site to get a better view of the estuary, and that we did. The view was awesome and it stayed sunny! We enjoyed our lunch up there and then headed down.

That evening, we took a walk down to the beach to look do some bird watching with Wendy. We were looking for the Dotterel, which is a threatened species. This particular estuary is a protected breeding grounds for these birds. There are only 1500 left in the world, all located in New Zealand.

photo credit: chris dorich