The Gannets of Muriwai, New Zealand
Shortly after we arrived in New Zealand we were told that one of the sights we needed to see was the gannet colony at Muriwai. As soon as we were able, I grabbed my camera equipment and we drove the short distance to Muriwai beach, only to find it void of any gannets. I was disappointed and realized we were there at the wrong time of year. Fast forward 9 or 10 months and we returned to see this amazing sight. (Scroll down to see close up photos of these beautiful birds.)
The gannets of Muriwai live on the edge between land and sea where these cliffs provide a strong updraft for easy take off. Here is where they mate and give birth. About 15 weeks after birth, the chicks make a journey to Australia more than 1200 miles away. There is no trial and error and no parents to show them the way. They migrate on their own. Those who survive the journey across the Tasman Sea will remain for several years. Finally, instinct draws them back across the 'ditch', (as people in that part of the world call the waters between Australia and New Zealand), never to return to Australia again. Amazingly, those who make the return trip successfully, will come to the same nest they left behind years ago, to have chicks of their own.