top of page

Finding Sweetie Pie

Last week I had the opportunity to do something a little bit different with my photography. I was invited up to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, by the glorious Tahu Mackenzie, one of our local celebrities here in Dunedin, New Zealand. She was hoping I could get some stunning images of the local birdlife adorning her recent creation, the Peka Peka Feeder ( at the ecosanctuary. Now I've lived in Dunedin almost 7 years and I've only really been to this magical place a handful of times for different occasions. All of which never involved actually exploring the tracks and admiring the wildlife in their element. Silly isn't it?!? So when the chance came to go up there and get photos for Tahu, I was super excited! It was a lovely Wednesday morning, the sun was playing hide and seek intermittently between the clouds and the weather was mild, not too cold... definitely not hot... It's winter in Dunedin, let's be honest. Although it's not the coldest winter by a mile since I've been here, it's actually been quite lovely this season so far. I arrived to the ecosanctuary and Tahu took me on a nice little walk to the Peka Peka Feeder that is installed on the Tui track. The feeder was empty and we needed to find a new sugar water supply to feed the troops. So we went on our merry way, heading up to the VIP Operations area. I just call it VIP because I felt pretty special going up there. haha. On the way up, we were greeted to the left by some voluptuous Takahes, bums wriggling from side to side like a sassy pair of divas... They were fabulous! We went through the gate heading over to Operations and asked if we could pinch a bottle of sugar water. There was a small group of people up there, all on one mission, to find Sweetie Pie.... Who is Sweetie Pie you ask? Well I did too... So Sweetie Pie is one of the older baby Kiwi chicks being looked after by the ecosanctuary. Everyone was looking for her so that her health check could be done, but she was proving to be quite the elusive Kiwi chick. No one could find her after various attempts. We wished them all luck and continued back down to the Tui track to replenish sugar water to the army of Tuis and Bellbirds awaiting us. Tahu left me there as she had important business to attend to and I was allowed to wander about the ecosanctuary looking for prime photo opportunities. As I was waiting, watching the Peka Peka Feeder for some action, another volunteer was coming up the track and mentioned to me that she had just replenished the feeders along the Kaka track and that it was quite impressive to see the Kaka feeding at this time of day with the light peeking through the canopy of trees and bush. So I made my way down the Kaka track and as luck would have it, I ran into the one and only Elton Smith, the Conservation Manager and head honcho of Orokonui Ecosanctuary, that had succeeded in finding Sweetie Pie! She was wrapped up, upside down in his jacket to help keep her calm. Time was of the essence, and he invited me up to photograph the health check. This is quite exciting stuff here in New Zealand! Not many people have actually seen a Kiwi up close or in the wild for that matter. I was on a trip to the West Coast a couple of months ago and saw a big brown Kiwi on the highway just outside of Okarito and to be quite honest, I lost my shit! It was amazing...But short lived, as the little dude ran off the highway the minute I stopped to grab my camera. They are such elusive creatures and so unique. Sweetie Pie was adorable and did very well for her health check. I was able to get a few snaps as you can see here, but refrained once the health check started so as not to embarrass the wee girl. From what information I gathered, she is healthy and happy... and may possibly return to a reserve/ecosanctuary in Haast very soon. All in all, it was a very exciting morning getting to connect with nature, the wildlife and the lovely people working and volunteering at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary ( I look forward to continuing to volunteer my photography services to this local organization and helping promote what they do. If you haven't been, you should go! They are doing incredible things for New Zealand's wildlife. <3

the one and only Elton Smith Conservation Manager and head honcho of Orokonui Ecosanctuary

Sweetie Pie Kiwi Chick

the one and only Elton Smith Conservation Manager and head honcho of Orokonui Ecosanctuary

the one and only Elton Smith Conservation Manager and head honcho of Orokonui Ecosanctuary


Sassy Takahes

Kaka (New Zealand Parrot)

Kakas arguing over breakfast

Tui at the Peka Peka Bird Feeder



Bellbirds in action at the Peka Peka Feeder


Tuis Talking over Breakfast

#kiwi #newzealand #orokonui #ecosanctuary #dunedinnewzealand #dunedin #wildlife #wildliferescue #conservation

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page