Moreporks at Marahau

Marahau
Marahau

From Fiordland we made our way back to Te Anau, and then north to Queenstown, Wanaka, Franz Josef Glacier, Greymouth, Westport and through the mist-shrouded Buller Gorge into the Tasman Region, the most northern part of South Island. After several days of strong winds, fog and rain along the west coast, it was a relief to arrive at the small town of Marahau, right up against the southern border of Abel Tasman National Park, on a warm, sunny evening. We’d booked a spot at Old Macdonald’s Farm, an eclectic mix of holiday chalets and camping pitches just north of Marahau. Most of the other occupants of the campsite seemed to be French, which, combined with the balmy climate and seaside location, gave it a strangely Mediterranean atmosphere.

After the long days of driving from one end of the island to the other we’d allowed ourselves three nights in Marahau to relax. On the second night, during a trip to the camp kitchen, I heard a Morepork calling in the distance. It was a calm night, so I grabbed my sound recorder and began trying to track the bird down. Eventually I got as close as possible, and set the recorder up on a fencepost. Just after I started recording a second bird joined in, so there are two birds, along with the echoes bouncing back off a nearby hillside. This was recorded with the built-in microphones on the PCM-D50, so there’s quite a bit of hiss in the background, but it’s one of the most evocative New Zealand recordings I was able to get and transports me back there more vividly than any of the others. Those listening at home have the advantage of not encountering the very determined mosquitoes and sandflies which eventually made me give up recording and head for the shelter of the camper van!

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