Gannets whiz by my head, without fear. Hundreds of them settle on an odoriferous field of mud on the edge of a cliff at Cape Kidnappers on New Zealand’s east coast near Hawke’s Bay.
This is the world’s largest mainland nesting place for gannets.
Cape Kidnappers is a rugged reserve of land on New Zealand’s North Island, where travelers will see beef and cattle ranching, one of the world’s more spectacular golf courses (see Mike Hiller’s post from Cape Kidnappers Golf Course), and enough fluttering and dancing gannets to last a lifetime.
Our little mini-bus of passengers from Celebrity Century, a cruise ship out of Sydney, Australia, bound for Auckland, New Zealand, rode for about an hour on a shore excursion from the cruise port at Napier. It was worth every minute.
According to our guide, as many as 20,000 gannets nest at Cape Kidnappers. The Gannets are members of the booby family, with black eye markings and a pale gold crown.
In the air, the birds swoop and dive, bringing back fish to the nests.
On the ground, explained the guide, the gannets are preening and performing a dance of recognition.
The tour, available September to April, is called Gannet Safaris. Travelers may choose the mimi-bus trip totaling about three hours, or a helicopter service.