Our next port of call on our New Zealand cruise was Picton. I had been looking forward to this, having booked a walk round the Kaipupu Point nature reserve. This was a wildlife sanctuary on an isthmus near the docks where a predator fence was built from Picton harbour to Shakespeare Bay, creating a 40 hectare “island”. It was opened in 2013, so was relatively new when we visited in 2015. There was still an active trapping scheme run by volunteers to keep the island free from predators, mainly rats but also stoats and possum which eat birds eggs and chicks. Rats have been seen leaving ships by running down mooring ropes, and it an easy swim to the reserve!
A small group had enrolled on this trip and we were met on the quayside by nature reserve volunteers who escorted onto a small boat for our short journey to the reserve. We were given a leaflet which showed the plants and birds we might see. There was a small landing jetty with information board.
So far, it sounds exciting! The weather however was not co-operative, high winds and rain meant that most birds had sheltered from the elements and where invisible, apart from a few tantalising chirps. Our guides were excellent, but restricted their commentary to the flora and history of the reserve in the absence of birds. We were shown penguin nesting boxes, which hadn’t as yet been discovered by their intended occupants. There was a path round the reserve, but our chosen route was through the middle, over a steep hill. At the summit we were told there was a spectacular view, which was unfortunately hidden by low cloud and rain.
Back on the boat, we were given a hot drink and home- made biscuit which was a nice gesture, as was the following trip round the harbour before we got back to the shore.
The predators had a barrier to keep the reserve safe. There was a barrier to keep the cruise ship safe too. We could not get off or on the port area on foot but were bused off and had to show ship ID and passport. We could not get off the cruise ship without showing our ship ID card, or back on again without showing ID and having bags and other carried items X rayed!