Although the name doesn’t sound very enticing, the world’s largest accessible mainland colony of over 18,000 gannets is worth visiting. The best time to visit the gannets is between November and February. The gannet colonies are closed between July and October. In April/May they leave for Australia. In September they return and build their nests; the first chicks hatch in November. The route is only accessible at low tide. Don’t go sooner than three hours after high tide and leave from the Cape Kidnappers no later than 1.5 hours after low tide. You can find the tidal information HERE, in local newspapers, information centre or on information board at Clifton at the starting point. The journey there and back is 18 km long, which could take on foot about 5-6 hours.
As seen from the pictures, I visited this place several times: on foot, by kayak, bike and tractor with a trailer. The most effective way was biking for two reasons: more time to observe the birds and also for its pleasant and much needed breeze that created my “speedy ride”. Families, earlier born tourists or less active individuals usually prefer the trip with organized tours, which is comfortable, faster and informative.
There is not much shade, so hat, sun glasses, sun block SPF 30 are essential along with a watch, snack, water and camera 🙂 The track starts from Scotmans Point at Clifton, which is about 20 km south of Napier.
Captain Cook named it “Cape Kidnappers” after a local Maori tried to kidnap one of his crew member.