© 2021, The McGees

Weka Weka

July 24, 2019

Weka! Not a kiwi, but we will always remember seeing it here in New Zealand with Emma. Terribly exciting!

It is on one of our last days before Emma’s departure. After visiting the local farmer’s market, dining at the Kerikeri Cruising Club with a friend of the home owners and continuing our dog walks, we decide to head to the town of Russell, the first European settlement and seaport in New Zealand. Historically visited by whalers, traders and the like, Russell, once known as the “hell hole” of New Zealand, is now a sleepy, romantic town.

We take a ferry across the Bay of Islands from Paihia. Guess how many islands are in the Bay of Islands? We wonder as well until we find a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc made in the Bay of Islands and labeled “144 Islands”. Well, there you go. Cheers!

Russell is quaint with its old houses and church. Emma guides us on a hike through the town and then beyond to the forest and an isolated cove. At one juncture, we have the option to hike along the rocky coast if the tide is low. We take the risk turning toward the coast and…

A loud rustle in the brush stops us in our tracks. We watch the moving vegetation until we get a glimpse of a big round bird. Emma and I are frozen in excitement thinking perhaps it is a kiwi. Emma, warming her mother’s heart, has started her own bird list here and is so awestruck that she doesn’t even snap a photo. Tim, clearly amused at our reaction, manages to get a few photos. It ends up there are several of these birds in the area and we get to watch for a good few minutes. The beak seems too short for a kiwi and they don’t seem quite round. Also, kiwi are nocturnal and it is daylight. These birds actually look a wee bit like chickens. Still - we are hopeful.

Filled with the joy of such a sighting, we hike along the rocky coast back to the ferry where we search for an identification online. Nope - not a kiwi - which is definitely disappointing. But we successfully identify it as a weka, a rail-like, endemic, flightless bird. This is nonetheless quite satisfying. Big smile!

We return home happily to our doggie charges - Paris, the patient little boss, and Monte, the naughty innocent. I look out and they are both on Pride Rock surveying the property. I look out again and Monte is gone. Paris looks back at us with a look that says, “Yep, he’s over the wall - isn’t he naughty!” Then Monte’s adorable face pops up from behind the gate. So cute! It’s hard to get angry with a puppy - even when he eats your shoes!

We have had such a special visit with Emma. We ENJOY hanging out with our adult children! Emma has even listened and advised us on what to do with our adult lives as well as stepping in to defray a few tense moments between us. “Look at the beautiful trees you guys.” Role reversal!

We kiss Emma goodbye, grateful for the time with her. Our attention turns to our last few days in Kerikeri with Paris and Monte. We have extended our trip for a few weeks - a week doing our own thing and a week on a newly secured house sit. That’s another 2 weeks of our lives figured out!

PS - Many of the photo credits from our Kerikeri stay go to Emma!

Farmer's Market fresh bread

Farmer's Market fresh orchids

Farmer's Market fresh kombucha

Russell - hell hole of the Pacific

On the ferry to Russell

One island in the Bay of Islands


Historic Russell architecture

Looking out over the cannon from Russell

Russell church

Emma leading the way

"Tramping" behind Emma in Russell

Kiwi?  Chicken?

It's a Weka!

Big birding smile

The welcome home committee

Paris monitoring Monte

Gotta love him!

Going to miss these three!

Written by Julie and Tim McGee who live in Sonoma, California, USA and frequently elsewhere...