Bird photography at Lake Okareka

About a year ago, I was staying in Rotorua, on the North Island of New Zealand, a place dear to my heart after my initial stay at Heather and Roger’s in September the year before. On my first visit to that geothermal region, I had met Tony Whitehead, a local bird photographer, and he had taken me to Lake Okareka, in the hills (you can see some images from that outing in my article Steam and Birds). Naturally, I had to revisit the place.

Paradise shelduck (Tadorna variegata)

The most interesting place is the walkway along the southern shore, and its boardwalk and bird hide, but the boardwalk is too high to offer great angles for photography. In September, the water level was high, making it difficult to lie down in the muddy shore, but in May it was perfect! Therefore, most (if not all) images you’ll see in this article were taken as I lay on my belly among duck poop and voracious flies.

Many of my subjects there were common birds: Black swan (Cygnus atratus), Paradise shelduck (Tadorna variegata), Grey teal (Anas gracilis)… but I didn’t have so many good pics of them, so I was very happy to see them strike the pose 🙂

Grey teal (Anas gracilis)

Black swan (Cygnus atratus)

On my first outing, a New Zealand scaup (Aythya novaeseelandiae) tried to mingle with the teals. Nearby, 3 Little black cormorants (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) enjoyed the sun on a wooden frame. Look at that brilliant green eye! Unconspicuous birds, but beautiful when one takes the time to look at them carefully.

Grey teal

Grey teal

New Zealand scaup (Aythya novaeseelandiae) and Grey teal

Grey teal

Grey teal

Grey teal

Little black cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris)

Little black cormorant

Little black cormorant

Little black cormorant

My second outing was a bit more cloudy, with some rain drops falling in the beginning. A Black swan drifted by, and then I had a visit from a young Eurasian coot (Fulica atra).

Black swan

Black swan

Eurasian coot (Fulica atra), young

Eurasian coot, young

Finally, a week later, a female Paradise shelduck was the star of the show, while a New Zealand grebe (Poliocephalus ruficollis) offered me the best pictures to date of its species, in stunning warm backlight.

Paradise shelduck

Paradise shelduck

New Zealand grebe (Poliocephalus ruficollis)

Paradise shelduck

Paradise shelduck

Paradise shelduck

Paradise shelduck

Many thanks to Tony for showing me the place originally! I would recommend it for sunset, but I was never there at sunrise; I’m sure there would be opportunities in the morning too.

Thank you for reading! Let me know what you think in the comment =)

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Bird inventory

13 thoughts on “Bird photography at Lake Okareka

  1. Hello Samuel. I was introduced to Lake Okareka by Tony Whitehead. It is a great spot for photography. The colours are gorgeous most of the time. I hope to go again. Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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