An Island Covered in Birds – Secretary Island

“On a Mish” #265 An Island Covered with Native Birds. Secretary Island. Patea / Doubtful Sound Fiordland. 19.8.2018. While basking in the stunning surroundings of Patea / Doubtful Sound I sometimes forget that I am in the office. The expression “If you find a job you like, you will never work a day in your life” is perfect for the lucky few who work in one of the most pristine places on the planet. A place people travel hours (sometimes days) to see is what we (the lucky staff) see as soon as we get out of bed…

With so many tranquil spots throughout the massive fiord, you can go a whole 20 hour trip without seeing another soul. For some people nothing will ever match the remoteness experienced in one of the last lost worlds left it is a guarantee that the memories will last a lifetime. And it is no different for the people who are getting paid to be there! Blowing new crew’s minds with the scenery is a satisfying joy that happens each season.

Each season the lucky crew get the place to themselves during the training period on the Fiordland Navigator. Because it is mid August the fiord is much quieter than it is during the summer, and usually it’s very quiet anyway!

Not many come to Patea / Doubtful Sound and leave unimpressed by what they have seen. This is what is expected with the new crew, and the hope is that the awesome environment will provide mental relief when the going gets tough during the busy times of the tourist season.

Looking Back at Patea / Doubtful Sound from Secretary Island

Training time is a time to become acquainted with the boat, and also to get to know the crew. One day during training there was some rare free time available and a suggestion was made to take the Navigator’s tenders (small boats attached to the Navigator) over to Secretary Island which is near the coast at Doubtful Sound’s entrance. The island is a very important ‘Predator Free’ island, and the bountiful bird sound provokes a feeling of the past. It is an island literally covered in native birds.

It is said that Captain Cook was asked by his crew to move his ship further away from the coastline after the morning chorus was so loud that it woke most of the crew way too early! Nowadays the forests and mountains are much quieter, apart from a handful of remote islands dotted around the country. Countless hours have gone into removing the unwanted introduced animals from these islands, and then releasing rare native birds into a safe environment.

The call went out to the crew that a mission to Secretary Island was about to go down, and within a few moments we had a tender full of excited crew, both new and old. After a year of cruising past the island it was awesome to finally be on our way to visit this very special part of Aotearoa.

As we slowed the boat for disembarking we could already hear the sounds of the many endangered birds on the island. Once on land, we made our way to one of the island’s DoC Huts, The Gut Hut. This is a hut much like many of the other huts around New Zealand, but its remoteness means it receives only a handful of visitors each year.

We soaked in the serenity of such a special place. For a few minutes we listened to the sounds of the happy native birds singing in their safe sanctuary.

After a visit to the hut and a look around it was time to head back to the tender and then cruise back to the ship. It was now time to get back to training for another season in paradise

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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