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Go batty this summer

Go batty this summer

13 November 2008


Discover the mysterious flyers of the night as you trek through the bush and search the sky at dusk.

The Auckland Regional Council (ARC) is offering the public a chance to go on a mission and search for bats within the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park.

ARC western ranger Stuart Leighton says bats are very interesting creatures.

“You will start your mission in the dark along a bush track and search for the secretive creatures that inhabit the forest and streams of this unique area. Luck is the name of the game and good eyes are a must, as the quick flying antics of the bat sometimes make them hard to spot.

“Bats are furry and nocturnal, which means they are active at night. They are also the only flying mammals in the world. Their outspread wings are similar to human hands, but with a membrane that joins the bones together and makes it possible for them to fly.

“They are a very clever species with the ability to avoid obstacles and find food by projecting sounds, too high pitched for the human ear, into the night. These sounds bounce off objects in their flight path, allowing them to fly safely in dark forests,” he says.

There are two types of bats in New Zealand, the long-tailed bat and the short-tailed bat. The Waitakere Ranges only has populations of the long-tailed bat.

“The long-tailed bat is more common, and is smaller than the short-tailed bat. It is dark brown, and has a wingspan of 25-28 cm. It feeds on moths, beetles and other small insects while flying. The long-tail bat also spends every night in a different roost, transporting its young each night,” says Stuart.

Bat walks can be booked for Monday and Wednesday evenings from 5 January to January, as well as Tuesday 27 January and Wednesday 28 January. The walks begin at around 8:15pm depending when darkness falls, and last about two hours.

The cost of the walks is $5 for adults, $2 for children and $12 for a family pass, including two adults and two children.

The walks are very popular and bookings are essential, so get in quick! Phone the Arataki Visitor Centre for more information: 09 817 0089.

For more information about the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park visit www.arc.govt.nz.


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