Puhinui Reserve

It’s a cloudy day, Summer is winding down, nobody wants to go hiking with me (hopefully just because of the previous two statements)…let’s do some exploring and try to track down some birds! Welcome to Puhinui Reserve.

Puhinui Reserve is in Mangere, near the airport. It borders Matukutūreia, the ziggurat-looking mountain shown here (it was not originally a ziggurat; quarrying activity around the volcanic cone reduced it to its current state). For the amateur wildlife enthusiast, this place had it all: wetlands, forest, shoreline, pasture…let’s see what we can find!

The carpark is this gravel loop; I think we’re meant to park on the grass. With how few people are here on this particular day, though, it was more like park wherever.

I stuck around the carpark at first and took some peeks at the mountain. It makes a good landmark, since the reserve is a little expansive and it’s possible to get out in the weeds a bit.

Apparently this well-paved pathway is actually a part of Te Araroa, which means The Long Pathway. It’s a trail which runs from Cape Reinga on the North tip of the North Island to Bluff on the South tip of the South Island. It’s quite long and requires several months to complete. I, on the other hand, have until sundown. So I guess I won’t be finishing it this particular day.

Just a few stops off the trail and I’ve moved from field to forest! And a nice, well-built bridge to boot!

I decided to proceed through this gate and down to the riverside in pursuit of my nemesis: the rainbow lorikeet. Don’t let the cheerful-sounding name fool you. Well, actually, they are very cute, cheerful-looking birds (you can see a picture of them on my trip to the Auckland Zoo). But they’re also super skittish and I have found them very difficult to photograph in the wild.

(New Zealand ornithologists should read the note at the end of the post on rainbow lorikeets before composing emails or comments.)

I thought that this riverside would be a good place for a stakeout. Also just a nice-looking place in general. If you’re going to hang out somewhere stalking a bird, you might as well hang out somewhere pretty!

I set up next to this tangle of branches and greenish-brown water. I waited for about 30 minutes down here. To what end? You’ll have to wait to see, since I put all the animals in their own section at the end of this post :)

Once I ended my stakeout (yeah, I know, I’m such a tease), I came across this fallen tree. I wonder if it was all the rain that caused it to fall, or if it just flumped over because the soil isn’t conducive to good root development. Whatever it is, I hope it didn’t hit a sheep (or anything else)!

Cresting the hill, I see a field used for various equestrian pursuits (I assume these obstacles are used in what we Americans call “English riding”. I don’t know what the rest of the world calls it; probably just “riding”). Let’s get a closer look at some of th…

…augh! That’s going to haunt my nightmares. OK, maybe not with the looking at creepy equestrian things.

Let’s get a look at the mountain with a mountain-looking thing in the foreground!

Moving on…see that tower on the hill there? Well, if I were in any way competent I would have gotten a closer-up picture of it, because it’s pretty cool (I often get excited about stuff like this and am so engrossed in exploring it I forget to photograph it, which is a bad trait for a photoblogger to have). For whatever reason, the ladder leading up to the stairs is gone.

Even I can do a single chin-up, though, so up I went. Unless people aren’t supposed to go up the tower, in which case I definitely didn’t go up it.

Note my green backpack there blending in with the green boards.

The tower provided some nice views!

It’s a boat!

And…what could that thing be, off in the distance? Is it a bridge?

To make up for teasing you about the birds, I’ll leave out quite a bit of walking and cut to the chase:

It’s a pipeline! I bet it’s related to the water treatment plant which you may recall from my trip out to Puketutu Island, which the more geographically inclined might realize is nearby.

The Wildlife

There’s quite a few sheep around, including what in this photo appears to be either a sheepy abomination or Sleipnir in sheep form but is actually just two black sheep, one behind the other with its head down.

This gang of sheep were loitering on the path trying to look tough, but when I stood my ground they ran off like the sheepy sissies they are.

These pukeko also guarded the path and also did not prove to be difficult adversaries.

These white faced herons similarly failed at guarding the path.

Finally, seen from my stakeout. I’m not great at bird identification, but I think these are some sort of shag; perhaps a black shag? The light isn’t really great in this photo.

I am sad to say, though, that what I did not see on my stakeout were some rainbow lorikeets. So my nemesis they shall remain.

(Rainbow lorikeets are an invasive species and are considered a pest in New Zealand; as such wild sightings are quite rare. Since going to Puhinui I have done more research, and it’s quite plausible that the times I thought I saw a rainbow lorikeet I may have been seeing other, similar birds such as the eastern rosella. But I’m recounting the tale as it happened, and at the time I believed I had a chance of seeing a rainbow lorikeet.)

Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed this trip to Puhinui! Next time we’ll be going to the beach. In the meantime, don’t let the scary horse statue haunt your dreams!

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