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Having booked the new ‘Orokonui After Dark’ tour, a 2-hour fully guided tour at twilight at Orokonui Ecosanctuary, we made our way from Dunedin to Port Chalmers and up Blueskin Road. It was a lovely Sunday afternoon and the views over Port Chalmers, the bays and the Otago Peninsula were already breathtaking.
Once we got to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, friendly and helpful staff introduced us to the course of the tour. We wandered around in the eco-friendly visitor building – a spectacular sight in itself! – and read through the information on the Ecosanctuary provided. Later, we found out that this unique building has just won the NZ Sustainable Architecture Award!
Then we made our way down in a small group to the gate of the pest-proof fence that would allow us to enter the 307 hectares of protected cloud forest. From thereon we went on a learning adventure through this cloud forest ecosystem and our knowledgeable guide Sue introduced us to all kinds of native flora and fauna and we got to observe a group of Kaka birds, socializing at twilight.
After watching the beautiful sunset over the Silverpeaks of Otago, we went back to the visitor centre and enjoyed a hot chocolate, a cup of tea with typically New Zealand Manuka Honey, as well as some delicious treats. Once the sun set and the dark crept over the habitat, we went back out onto the tracks, equipped with torches, to try and hear the calling of a Kiwi Bird or to even get a glimpse of one of the cute feathery birds.
All in all, during this tour, we were not only introduced to the unique local flora and fauna of the South Island, we also learned about the concept of the Orokonui Ecosystem and the challenges and operations to keep it a place where native birds and wildlife can live safe from predators.
It is also great for a break from the hectic daily city life and the moment where we stopped in the dark, all in silence to try and hear a Kiwi Bird calling, was my favourite and most relaxing! It is definitely a great place to visit and the fact that your visit will support the preservation of this unique biodiversity makes it even more worth visiting!
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