I had been hoping to go birding the next day with the guide, Geoffray Sulpice but because the Aranui cruise ship was in port, he was already occupied for the day. Let’s start with an orientation of the island of Ua Huka. In the map below, I have used red arrows to indicate the 3 villages – Vaipaee, Hane & Hokatu. Each village is at the mouth of a small river or stream that flows through the valley into the sea. The beautiful endemic Ultramarine Lorikeets can be found in these valleys.
The northern side of the island is uninhabited, the entire population is in the southern coast where the villages are. There is no public transport. Tourists can either rent a car or horse and go around by themselves or get your guesthouse owner to organize something for you. Maurice did this for us. I forget what he charged for about a half day tour, it was around 2500 XPF-ish.
UA HUKA ARBORETUM
The first stop was the Ua Huka Arboretum which is a botanical garden and one of the best places for independent birding as it is open to the public and there is no entry fee. It is located between the airport and the main village of Vaipaee, see the green arrow above.
There is a trail that leads pretty far back towards the mountain, the further back you walk, the narrower it gets and the more birds you will see. As you walk through, enjoy many beautiful tropical flowers and plants.
This little guy is called a “vini” by the locals which is confusing as the scientific name for the Ultramarine Lorikeet is “Vini ultramarina”, but these birds aren’t even close. I think they are Chestnut-breasted Mannikins.