From September to December watch the birds carrying nesting material (seaweed, grass, or feathers) or pilfering from other nests. Generally, only the male brings in nesting material. A chick will live at this colony for about 15 weeks. In that time its appearance will change dramatically.
From its black ‘naked’ birth state to a white fluffy month-old chick and then, by 3 months it will have become a grey speckled juvenile. At flying age, the average chick will weigh 50 times its 60 gram birth weight. However, most extra fat will be lost once it starts to fly and feed for itself. The chicks depart for their first flight to Australia at 15-16 weeks old. It takes them about 8 days to get there. 70-80% of these birds will die over the next 2-3 years before they have a chance to return to Cape Kidnappers.
Gannets eat live fish, in particular herrings, pilchards, mullet, saury, garfish, anchovies and squid. Their strong flight will be abruptly broken off as they spot a school of fish. They plummet up to thirty meters to hit the water at speeds up to 140kph – the impact cushioned by air sacs in the forehead, neck, and chest wall. They then swim down, catch a fish, and swallow it on the surface, all in a few seconds. The gannet may spend up to 15 hours away from the nest while feeding. Chicks are fed on demand but usually near dawn and dusk.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get almost face to face with a Gannet and it’s an experience you do not want to miss.
For specific details of the Gannet Tour options available select the required tour below.
“A must-do tour! Can’t get any closer to the gannets. Also managed to get a glimpse of the luxury golf course and lodge. Graham was a wonderful tour guide.”
claudzperez - December 2021
“A wonderful trip with David, our guide, who was very knowledgeable with the odd joke thrown in. Certainly worth the value. I loved the time spent at the gannet colony and couldn't believe how many birds there were and how close we were able to get them. Such a magic experience.”
Trip Advisor - December 2021
“Wonderful tour! Graham was a fantastic guide, knowledgeable and humorous. We didn’t see many gannets at the top due to it being end of season, but overall it was an unforgettable experience which we highly recommend.”
G G - April 2022
“Graham was an awesome tour guide - so knowledgeable and catered the trip and info to the audience. Highly recommended!!”
Caleb - April 2022
“Awesome trip through amazing farm land. Graham was a wonderful tour guide giving informative and entertaining commentary the whole trip.”
Sandi - April 2022
“Throughly enjoyed this experience. The tour guide Tony was fantastic and really made the whole trip. The knowledge and history of the property that was provided was more than we had expected. We didn’t get to see many gannets however to be expected at this time of year. Regardless of this we loved the afternoon. An absolute must do for anyone visiting the region.”
Cherie Osbaldiston - April 2022
“I joined the Safari on Easter Sunday afternoon and really enjoyed it. It was a slightly cold, windy and cloudy day but not too bad. At least there was no rain. Our guide was friendly and very knowledgeable, explained things in details, not only about the gannets but the geology of the place, its geology, interesting facts, showed us photos, etc.. This is certainly a very interesting trip and you can get a lot of knowledge not only about the birds but Hawke's Bay as well.”
Marcelo_Toniolo - April 2022
“Was an awesome experience. Spectacular views and scenery to and from the Gannet Colony and around the area.And of course the Gannets, such beautiful birds and the amazing history of them. There weren’t as many there as a lot had already made their migration to Australia and elsewhere. Rob is very knowledgeable and experienced, was very humorous and lovely to listen to. He positioned the bus at a certain angle to protect us from strong winds and prepared a lovely cup of tea.”
Jean Merrilees - April 2022
“This was a fabulous tour, with so much more, than initially expected. Tony was a wonderful tour guide, very informative as well as been entertaining. The gannets were very amusing & the scenery superb. We would highly recommend this tour.”
Jenny M - April 2022
“We booked this tour after our beach tractor gannet tour cancelled. Sometimes these things are meant to be - we had the most wonderful time on this tour. Graham our driver and tour guide was amazing - friendly, fun, and so knowledgeable! The trip over the farmland was fascinating and fun, and the gannets themselves were extraordinary! We visited in early April when the chicks were large and preparing to leave home, but there were still many adults and chicks still onsite. We had the most wonderful trip, thankyou Graham!”
StaceyCheer - April 2022
“Very unexpected tour that was so much more than seeing the gannets at the end - thought we would just see a few chicks hiding under M & D! Got a great history of land ownership and the use changed was interesting. Conservation undertakings and how it all linked to NZ native species management was new to us. Bus as safe and comfortable as could be on the rough roads. Great commentary from Tony. Coming back in Sep/Oct to see baby chicks and parents reuniting.”
James Corbett - April 2022
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