Mou Waho Island Sanctuary on Lake Wanaka - Weka Heaven?

Lake Wanaka set in the semi-arid rain shadow of the mountains, surrounded by grassland that in places has survived the spread of (uneconomical) sheep-farming. The main reason for a birder visiting this town is perhaps the island sanctuary of Mou Waho where the very rare (extinct on main-land New Zealand) can be viewed with ease. 

We traveled to the island with our guide Chris on an `Eco-Wanaka` cruise. He carried tea and cookies in his back-pack and so provided us with a memorable (if slightly surreal) experience among the `ecologically naive` Buff Wekas that make the island their home. These birds have no fear of mankind - they were a pest when still plentiful on the mainland before introduced predators wiped them out in the blink of an eye due to their `endearing` habit of breaking into any container of food!

The instruction to NOT feed them can be tricky....

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The island itself is beautiful, clad in native trees that can support a wide range of native fauna with a lake at its heart. So you have an island with a lake on an island with a lake....

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Birds seen  here included New Zealand Pigeon, Tui and Bellbird; all common endemics but great to see and hear in such a natural setting.

It should also be noted however that although the main attraction were the Weks, the lake and wooded shores near the town are perfect for New Zealand Scaup, Australasian Grebes (same as our GC Grebes), White-faced Herons  and common land birds such as Silvereye.

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Finally, the gulls here are the inland species of Black-billed Gulls and Redpoles (introduced from UK) are common also.

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