Our final excursion was to Nick’s Head Station, a mixed sheep and horticulture farm formed from the amalgamation of three properties, one of which incorporates Young Nick’s Head, named for the seaman who first sighted land from HMS Endeavour. The Māori name is Te Kuri o Pāoa (the dog of Pāoa), which it is said to resemble.

Farm manager Kim Dodgshun told us about the history of the station, the background to the 2002 purchase, and the subsequent conservation, reforestation and predator control; the predator-proof fence, and introduction of endemic species such as tuatara and wētā. Using solar-powered speakers to imitate bird calls, tākapu, tītī, and other sea birds have been tempted establish new colonies on the cliffs.

The farm employs 22 staff (compared to just three at the neighbouring farm) to ensure that not only is the farm well-managed, but all aspects of conservation and care are undertaken. They take the long view: the ongoing plan includes planting native trees – rimu, totara and matai – for harvesting in 100 years’ time.

We ate lunch alfresco in the substantial wetland, an area created by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. We had plenty of time to explore the wetland and beach, seeing many New Zealand species on the way: pūtangitangi, poaka, weweia, kakīānau in the wetland, and tūturiwhatu on the beach. These are only possible because of the protection given to this habitat.

Nicola Kirkup