The North Island is, according to Maori legend, Te Ika a Maui - a fish hooked and landed by Maui which transformed into this land. Wellington is at the southern end, the head of Maui's fish - Te Upoko o Te Ika a Maui. It was a very large fish indeed - te ika nui a Maui! - and it is long - about 830km (515 miles). So when I headed up north for a visit to Paihia, I was travelling a decent distance and to a warmer and more subtropical climate - how I love balmy evenings!
The pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) is also known as the New Zealand Christmas tree because it flowers around Christmas time with a glorious display of crimson flowers. It is a coastal plant, and grows well even when located precariously holding on to rocky cliffs - and because Christmas here is in our summer, the colourful display is associated with sunny days and blue skies and holidays at the beach. Some pohutukawa were already out at Paihia beach, and tui song was also in evidence. When I went closer I could see a lot of movement within the tree, but what was going on?
Can you see it? A tui - and it was one of many! Not exactly hiding, just busy feeding - tui belong to the "honeyeaters" group of birds, and there surely was a lot of nectar to be consumed - I could see a lot of honeybees there too. A bold bird and a bold floral display - and a foretaste of the delights of December.