Meet the creatures of the dark - bats in trees and insects under rocks. At Earthlore Nature Tours and Activities in Owaka, Gordon and Janine Thompson bring the bug world alive with their incredible passion for the environment.
A real adventure for families and nature lovers alike, it’s also an eye-opener as they guide you on nature tours through stunning Catlins forest and their regenerated garden eco-system, talking about rare and threatened species, introverted penguins, moths with murder on their mind and other enchantingly true tales.
“We’re not just about taking people out and zooming past and just looking at wildlife. We want to give back to nature so you leave it a better place than when you found it,” says Janine.
Just two minutes out of Owaka, you can wile away a few hours at Earthlore’s Wildlife Gardens or a few days getting back to nature.
“In the garden we have a character called Inspector Insector. We invented him to make kids aware of invertebrates because everyone likes the cute, cuddly birds and think insects are all icky,” explains Gordon. “We're trying to get kids away from their cell phones and back outside.”
Janine is fierce with a spade having planted over 2000 plants on the property, including some rare species on the New Zealand endangered plant list (a big hit with gardening enthusiasts). You can even plant your own tree to offset your travel.
Go Batty over bird of the year.
When bats flew away with the Bird of New Zealand award this year, no one was happier than the folks at Earthlore who run possibly the only bat-finding tour in the country.
Complete with bat-detecting equipment this is a must-do for 2022. “We set the detectors on 40 kilohertz because we can't hear bats with the human ear,” explains Gordon. “Then we walk along a beautiful scenic area and the lovely Catlins River at dusk and slowly scan the sky with our infrared binoculars. When the bats are out and feeding, they make a big racket and when you hear it, I couldn't begin to describe what it sounds like. It’s amazing.”
What makes these tours so riveting is that there is nothing manufactured. And we mean nothing. Everything Janine and Gordon have done is native to the area. They are literally replenishing New Zealand one insect, butterfly, bird, flower, and tree at a time.
Touchingly honest and genuine about sharing the wonderment of nature, they make the subject of insects compelling and educational and turn Kiwis into Wildlife Guardians, one tour at a time.
Stay a while and do their 3-day ‘Back to Nature’ experience which fills your days with bird spotting, an after dark nature experience and work on a local conservation project.