Most Marlborough locals have fond memories of lazy days spent enjoying Whites Bay, but have you been there at night? Have you seen the glow worms? Did you go spotlighting for native fish? Did you see the mighty hunter – Powelliphanta? Warm summer evenings offer the perfect opportunity to take the family exploring to see what comes out after dark.
The Pukatea Walk, which starts at the uppermost camping area, meanders down to the cable station alongside the stream and is a perfect spot for a family night hike. You don’t need much, some warm clothes, sturdy shoes and a torch and you will be ready to stretch this normally 10-minute stroll into a 45-minute magical adventure.
Start your quest by searching for Arachnocampa larvae (aka glow worms). Check along the banks and you will find luminescent hunters trying to lure flying insects into their small but effective sticky webs. Use your torch to spotlight for nocturnal native fish in the creek along the way. Keep an eye out for long and short fin eels, banded kokopu, torrent fish, redfinned bully and common bully. Of course you won’t need a fishing gear because these special lovers of the night are all protected.
Don’t get too distracted by the calls of the morepok while you are out. In stead, keep a careful watch out for one of the night’s most stealthily hunters– the Powelliphanta, a giant carnivorous land snail. Earthworms are ruthlessly chased down, at remarkable snail speeds, and then slurped up like spaghetti. These veracious hunters can get up to nine centimetres across - the size of a large mandarin.
For a little extra excitement you may choose to add a ghost story to go along with the walk? It has been said that the ghost of the American slave Black Jack White, who deserted his whaling ship in 1828 and took up residence with local Maori, still walks the shores of the cove which would later be named after him.
So take another look at Whites Bay after dark but remember to protect the environment for your own sake, for the sake of those who come after you, and for the environment itself
Courtesy of DoC Marlborough