Cape Kidnappers

On our way out of Napier we decided to do a tractor tour of Hawke’s Bay’s Cape Kidnappers. This is usually a 16 km hike along the beach that is very tide dependent. You can only complete this hike when the tide is out. Given our last two days of extreme activity, we opted to do the tractor tour. Personally, I’m not a fan of tours as I’d much rather have the freedom to do as I please, and take my time looking and exploring the things I find interesting.  But I didn’t have much of a say so on this one and we set off as the sun was rising across the ocean.

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The morning was very foggy, but it added to the character of the looming cliffs along the beach. Essentially, Cape Kidnappers is a long peninsula with steep, white cliffs lining the beach. If you look closely at the cliffs, you can see the different layers of marine sediment from millions of years ago. You can clearly see fault lines where earth quakes and volcanoes have displaced the levels of the deposits. Towards the end of the peninsula, you will find the breeding and nesting sites for thousands of gannets, a large sea bird that flies to New Zealand from Australia for its breeding season. If you were able to see the land located at the tops of the cliffs, you would find the famous Cape Kidnappers golf course.

The intriguing name, “Cape Kidnappers,” comes from a story dated back to October 15, 1769. A local New Zealand tribe, the Maori, attempted to kidnap one of Captain Cook’s crew members. Cook was a British explorer who had been mapping out New Zealand’s coast line at the time. The Maori pulled up alongside Captain Cook’s ship, the HMS Endeavor, offered the crew some fish, and pulled a young boy onto their boat. The boy was able to escape after Captain Cook’s crew opened fire on the ship, giving him a chance to jump overboard and swim back to the Endeavor. Cook left the peninsula immediately, documenting the experience in his journal, and dubbing the peninsula “Cape Kidnappers.”

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The fog cleared up enough so that we could get out and explore the end of the peninsula. We walked up through a sheep and cattle field to get to a rather large nesting point for the gannets. These are beautiful white and yellow birds that spend a lot of time in the water. They were very loud, squawking at any bird that got too close to their personal nest, which wasn’t very hard to do considering each nest was about a foot apart. A couple birds would fight, wrestling each other and battling it out with their impressive beaks. After observing the birds for a while, Kendra and I headed back down to the beach to admire more of the cliff side views. The beach itself was beautiful and we saw a fur seal resting on a large rock far out in the water. Soon it was time to get back on the tractor and head back. I will say the tractor ride was relaxing, despite the scolding I received for climbing up on a small rock to get a better angle on a picture I was taking.

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