Before humans came to New Zealand, there were no mammals on the two big islands floating in the vast Pacific Ocean.
There were and are, however, lots of birds.
We’ve driven all over this beautiful country and seen all kinds of birds, but we haven’t seen live — or stuffed — the infamous kiwi, New Zealand’s national symbol.
Today, we ventured out to the Royal Albatross Centre on the tip of the Otago Peninsula in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the rare bird.
We didn’t see the large bird, but we did see plenty of seagulls — rats with wings as Captain Mike, John’s sailing mentor, calls them.
I confess to feeling like Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s The Birds after one irritated gull dive-bombed my head a couple of times.
But watching the gulls on the rocky coast of the peninsula was worth the gull’s ire. Even rats with wings are graceful in the air.
My favorite bird, on this island of birds, was a tiny sparrow who boldly came to our door demanding food. We kindly obliged.