|Journal # 13 Kapiti Island|
| I caught an early train up the West Coast to the town of Paraparaumu and booked the 9am ferry out to Kapiti Island. Kapiti is 10km long, 2km wide, and 520m high. It has been turned into a native bird sanctuary much like New Zealand was before humans introduced mammals. Many kinds of birds live there that are extinct on the mainland.
I decided to hike to the very top of the island. The lower trees were silvery and twisted, reaching up and out toward the water. There were birds everywhere. It was like an exotic fairy forest full of strange songs and whispered conversation. Under the higher canopy of trees there were ferns and palms growing 10 to 20 feet tall and there were vines everywhere.
The higher I climbed, the denser the forest became until the air itself looked green. Trees had grown together in giant spirals and Celtic knots. In places there were brown pillars where so many vines and trees had grown so close together that they caught their own dead leaves and formed redwood size towers disappearing up into the canopy. Almost every other tree stood on stilts over their long vanished nursery logs. They looked like real live Ents ready to use their legs and walk around.
Other people had come over on the ferry but I walked most of the trail by myself. There was a curious gray robin that followed me up the path for a while, considering me with one eye and then the other.
There were flightless birds, smaller than Kiwis, called "Wekas." They emerged from the undergrowth when I stopped for lunch. Each had the body of a chicken, but a long, slim neck and small head like the Kiwi. Their eyes were dark red. One stole a bit of bread from me and then ran off into the bush before anyone else decided to take his prize.
Most often I encounterd North Island Kakas. They are the size of a large parrot and at first glance they appear dark grey. But then, when they spread their wings and take flight, their scarlet underclothes are revealed. They would sit in the trees along the path and look at me quite suddenly and seriously. This intimidating effect was totally lost when one would swing around upside down on its branch to get a better look.
The view from the top was breathtaking! I was looking down on clouds soaring in across the ocean. the island itself looked like an aerial photo from up here. Houses on the coastline that we had ferried from were mere dots far below across the water. If I were to do nothing else here in New Zealand, I would be happy with this one experience climbing amidst such beauty.