There are a lot of coastal wineries next to Cape Kidnappers, Elephant Hill, Clearview, Te Awanga Estate, and Beach House Winery. There's a good range from modest to not so, we had a fantastic day cycling around them (rent bikes from www.winecycles.co.nz) after our Gannet Safari. Very flat, easy ride no problem for us "mature" cyclists!
Cape Kidnappers doesn’t mean: just gannets.
We decided to go on the bus tour and never did regret it. Overland Safaris offers a bus tour to the Cape and we did enjoy the breathtaking scenery very much.
First part of the trip brought us to Summerlee Station, one of the most beautiful golf ranges of New Zealand (to be honest we don’t like these kind of things, built with very much American dollars in the middle of such a piece of nature).
But then starts the gravel road and we did understand why the bus is a 4 x 4 wheeled vehicle. We passed small rivers, very steep slopes and inclines. There were some stops and we could admire the rugged coastline of Cape Kidnappers. And after a very scenic drive we arrived at the top of the plateau where the gannets are. Besides of the birds this is really a nice place high above the Hawke's Bay with lovely views.
We had a seat in front of the bus on the right side. The views are the best and when we reached the plateau we came suddenly face to face with some gannets on their nests. A great experience.
Although we had already seen gannets before in New Zealand (at Muriwai Beach), visiting Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve is one of the highlights of our visits to New Zealand. It is such an fantastic experience to come so close to these wonderful birds. To see them flying to and from their nests feeding the chicks, or to look at the greeting ceremonies between two adult birds.
You can get very close to the nesting sites and it wouldn’t be any problem 'to touch' the gannets. We walked along the low chain and everywhere we did see these remarkable birds with their yellow head and long bill.
It is so amazing to know these birds come back every year to the same spot and even to their old nest.
Best period for a visit is from December till February when the chicks are on the plateau. There are three gannet colonies on Cape Kidnappers: the Plateau Colony (the only colony where visitors are allowed), the Saddle Colony and the Black Reef Colony. It is said there are more then 10.000 gannets on Cape Kidnappers.
There are three different ways to get to Cape Kidnappers. By walking along the beach, only possible at low tides. It will take about 5 hours walking. A second way is to get on a guided tour with a tractor and trailer, also along the beach. You will have to climb the steep cliff to the gannet colony.
We did a tour with a 4WD bus overland to the plateau. If you don’t want you don’t have to walk at all (see other tip).
Cape Kidnappers is located on the East Coast of the North Island in the Hawkes Bay Region. A short drive from Napier is the Cape Kidnapper Gannet Reserve. It is the largest and most accessible mainland gannet colony in the world.This popular tourist destination is home to 1000's of Australasian Gannet or Takapu as the Maoris call them. I would enjoy the pristine beauty of the Cape even if these unique birds were not there.