At Muriwai, on Auckland’s west coast, you can visit the world’s most accessible gannet colony. We’ve been there many times and went again last night. However, this time the gannets had flown their nests and we really went there to take in the sunset and special ambience this beautiful area affords. So I’ve included some photos of the gannets from previous visits, below. The 1,200 pairs of gannets breed between September and March before heading off to Australia, though some stay behind to keep the resident fur seals company, which is why we saw so few yesterday. The chicks hatch in October and this is the best time to visit as the colony launches into a frantic overdrive of flying and feeding their demanding offspring. Gannets really are extraordinary birds, dressed in a beautiful, sleek plumage, noisy, rude and argumentative, yet graceful and skillful in the air; true arial acrobats. You can see these arial aerobics close-up as observation decks built just above the cliffside colony allow wonderful views of the birds plunging into the ocean and balancing and breaking in the air before landing on ledges and rocky stacks. As with so many places in New Zealand, the information on the areas you’re visiting is outstanding and so well done. Here, the gannet information is beautifully illustrated on a series of tiles strategically placed around the colony.