Story of some Brits living in New Zealand for the Southern Hemisphere Winter in 2004
(Recent Entries Here)

Saturday, July 03, 2004


After the conference I spent the weekend up near a lake in Rotorua in the North Island (a place which Kiwi’s seem to call Rotovegas for no really good reason – after Las Vegas! I think perhaps Rotorua has a casino or something.).

After living in the Novotel in town for almost a week, with accommodation, conference, meals and entertainment all there at the hotel, it was nice to get out.

On Friday afternoon I headed back to the airport to meet Bianca and Miles and Laura (Bianca’s sister in law). Laura has been staying at a “batch” up at a lake near Rotorua for nearly 4 months studying the behaviour of the endangered Kokako bird. Her research equipment needs a lot of carting about through the forest so field assistants are always useful – hence the presence of Miles and Bianca! I just tagged along.

This was the first batch I had stayed at and it was very nice. I get the impression that a lot of Kiwis own a second home, affectionately referred to as a 'batch'. These are often older houses in really nice outdoorsy locations with basic facilities. The batch Laura had hired was really great, with an excellent view of the lakeside with loads of birds around. Facilities included: an old stove like an Arga, which was the main source of heat and with enough wood burning in there could boil a kettle; an electric hotplate and a pan with integrated heat element in it; a shower but not much fuel left for the hot water so we didn’t use that at all; a couple of axes for chopping wood; bunk beds; basic kitchen; running water (when the somewhat noisy pump was running) Well, quite basic really, a little cold, but with great woodwork, an excellent position and great access to the outdoors.

The Kokako birds are quite unusual in that they sing a duet, with the male singing one half of the song and the female another part. This is what Laura is studying. We went out Saturday afternoon to have a listen. Laura played some of the song back and after a while a pair of Kokako came to investigate and entertained us with their singing. Pretty cool!

Kokako is very likely to be a Maori name for the bird. Maori names are often chosen to sound like the noise an animal makes, and indeed this seems to be true with the Kokako.

Whilst at the batch I also got the chance to see several Pukeko – a far more common bird but one I had only until then seen on Roadsigns. Pretty impressive almost chicken-like bird and more shy than a lot of NZ birds and much harder to photograph than some.

Also saw Tui', Pigeons and Bellbirds up at the batch!


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