Birds & Trees around Reefton

The unique biodiversity around Reefton is a rich “goldmine” of rare and interesting birds. The Northwest Wildlife Corridor that provides a link between a series of different forest areas is a bird passage way that runs straight through the Goldfields of Quartzopolis.

The North West Wildlife Corridor is a vital passage of forest that links the northwestern forests to the Southern Alps. The precious corridor is at it thinnest right at Reefton Saddle and Slab Hut Campground. For this reason Slab Hut Campground and the surrounding forests of Quartzopolis are a great spot to encounter Aotearoa’s special birdlife.


The Gold & Bird Song

Who doesn’t like bird songs and gold? The Slab Hut Campground has both. Visitors have reported flocks of kaka and also spotted were parakeet, tui, tomtit, bellbird and the cheeky robin. While you pass the time spotting all types of birds, try your luck on the gold sluice boxes provided. Like the wildlife the gold is free.

Head out of Reefton on the main road towards Greymouth. You will go over a hill, along a straight, then look out for the big sign on your left. Slab Hut Campground is down a short gravel road.

Difficulty: Easy (suitable for all ages)
Time/distance: 10min drive from Reefton
Options: Walking & Tramping, Gold Panning/Sluicing, Picnic

The Magnificent Kaka Hunt


Join us in our first ever public search for the kaka. These magnificent birds are usually heard before they are seen.  A distinct, erratic shrill or screech usually signals a kaka or three passing through.  We want to record and map any sightings.  Below is a couple of places that we have recorded frequent sightings, so far.  Try your hand and spot these elusive kaka.  Even better you could find kaka in the lower forest canopy, happily feeding.  Talk to the Reefton Visitor Centre staff to help you with your hunt and hopefully you will record the latest sighting.  If you see one ask if you can record it’s location on our Magnificent Kaka Hunt map.

Where can I find Kaka?

Slab Hut & WaiutaTownship

These two easy drive to spots are ideal for casual kaka hunting.  Slab Hut Campground, also good for gold panning and a barbeque is frequented by kaka eating the young shoots of the macrocarpa trees.  Waiuta Township with its park like setting is fabulous for historic browsing.  In summer especially, walk the first 4 kilometres of the Big River-Waiuta Track for a kaka hot spot.  This pack track with native fuchsia in flower is a favourite location these magnificent birds.

Murray Creek

Using Murray Creek track to get to either Lankeys Track or the Waitahu Track will take into Kaka country.  Lankeys is ideal because it traverses the hill side at just the right height for kaka flight path.  Also you get great views into the Inangahua River and the surrounding valley.  Waitahu Track is more of backcountry experience; walk at least to the Waitahu Valley lookout and then listen.  Murray Creek is also a great day circuit via Inglewood and Ajax mines. All these tracks can be mountain biked (refer to mountain bike section).

Happy hunting.


Beginners Bird Guide

Weka
These birds are tough West Coast characters.  A big brown flightless bird, cheeky, friendly and inquisitive.  If you sit long enough in the forest of Quartzopolis you will most likely have a weka call by. Weka mp3 sound recording

Black Robin
A beech forest favourite, these small but brave birds, known historically as the ‘bushman’s friend’ are very comfortable around people.  They will follow you in the hope your footprints uncover insects in the leaf litter.  Very easy to find as they usually find you. Black Robin mp3

Tomtit/Miromiro
A very small stout bird with skinny legs and tiny beak.  Their size makes them quite elusive amongst the trees, but they are fun to see if you never seen one. Tomtit mp3 sound recording

Tui
One of the best flyers in the forest, with the most beautiful song.  Black, blue with an oil type glaze and a white ruff.  Nectar feeders on flowering plants such as flax and kowhai.  The tui sings with two voices boxes, remarkable! Tui mp3

Bellbird/Korimako
A little camo-green bird that is more often heard than seen.  Mimics other bird song, but mainly uses the tui’s song.  See if you can spot the difference (knowing the tui has an extra voice box). Bellbird mp3 sound recording

Fantail/Piwakawaka
Observe the whip, snap and swivel of the fantail as it incredibly picks off the airborne insects.  A completeNew Zealandfavourite!  Like the robin it will seek out walkers when they disturb insects in the bush.  Note you can replicate its sound by rubbing a cork on a glass bottle. Fantail mp3

Kereru/NZ Pigeon
The noble kereru is a social bird with beautiful  blue-grey plumage.  Spot its graceful ascending glide and the stylish courtship stall high above the forest canopy.  A special treat is to hear its unusual coo.  Or even better if you are in the forest long enough, you will eventually be startled by the kereru’s classic close range swoop manoeuvre. Kereru mp3 sound recording

Ruru/Morepork
The aura and mystery of the morepork!  A small nocturnal brown owl that is very rarely seen but most certainly heard. Morepork mp3 sound recording

Grey Warbler/Riroriro
A small, faded grey bird which is hard to see but often heard. Grey Warbler mp3

Kakariki /Parakeet
These are flock birds, so if you see one you are likely to see more.  Green parrots with a bit of red colour on their forehead.  A busy chatter of a song. Kakariki mp3

Kiwi
Our nocturnal icon, is our endangered icon.  There have been reports of kiwi on Kirwans Hill and Reefton Saddle, but none of these have been verified. Kiwi mp3 recording

Mohua/Yellowhead
This very rare, small yellow headed fellow is long gone from this forest.  If you see one please report it to DOC in Reefton. Mohua mp3 recording

Find out more about these birds on the DOC website DOC A-Z of Native birds.


The Forest Of Rich Returns

The luxurious forests of Quartzopolis are rich with Beech: red, silver, mountain, black and hard.  There are some superb stands throughout the whole Victoria Forest Park.  Where there were forests cleared for mining, these quick growing trees have re-colonised and buried remains literally within their roots.

In addition to the wide expanses of beautiful native forest, the long history of the area has left behind a large number of mature exotic species.  This mixture of mature exotic and native tree species make the Quartzopolis Goldfields like a massive arboretum.

Slab Hut Creek was an experimental planting area for the old Forest Service in the 70s and has Japanese Fir, Lawson’sCypress, and Oregon Redwoods. In Waiuta, buildings from the old town are rotting away, while impressive trees planted back in the day continue to thrive.

There are dozens of massive old trees in downtown Reefton – testament to its long history. The deciduous trees rising up the terrace surrounding town are a golden flame in autumn and a band of lush green in other seasons.

All these exotics are impressive as a stand alone feature.  However, it is the combination of them in contrast with the beech forest of the Victoria Forest Park surrounding them that is unique.

Visit the Reefton Information Centre for more details on Birds and Trees.