Pulling camp, we climbed high and were rewarded with some great scenic views looking far down to Lake Te Anau. A high-pitched Wapiti bugle had us trying to locate our first animal of the trip. Once spotted, a closer look through the ATC spotting scope confirmed that it was a young bull. It was still a few years from its prime, so we moved on and pushed on higher.
We then encountered one of New Zealand’s most colorful backcountry characters, the cheeky Kea (Nestor notabilis). This bird is the world’s only alpine parrot and is very inquisitive, continually wanting to play with your gear and follow you around. This of course did not aid our hunting opportunities, but they still are a really special part of the mountain hunting experience in New Zealand. It is now considered an endangered species, due to predation by introduced mammals. This is why hunters run vast predator trapping operations and surveys to help the Kea survive.
The evening saw us making a sheltered campsite as we expected some gale force winds and heavy rain over the next few days. My mother Fiona had never experienced a Fiordland storm before and was a little apprehensive. We reassured her that this was all part of the Wapiti hunting experience.