Bird beauty over the horizon
Five kilometres or so into New Zealand's exclusive economic zone and it's a world of birds completely different from those on the coastline.
Hypnotic and colourful, many of the birds are attracted to the fishing boats that are also drawn to waters for the same reason the birds are - it is rich in food.
New Zealand's EEZ is the seabird capital of the world and home to 86 species that breed nowhere else.
Aboard the large Ukrainian fishing boat Aleksandr Buryachenko - operating under charter for Sealord Group - the clash between bird and humans is obvious as the large nets come in. A bewildering array of birdlife shows up for a meal.
The ship's captain Yuri Kylybov is proud of anti-bird snaring devices that now hang off both sides of the stern of Aleksandr Buryachenko.
"They work; we don't have any bird strikes now."
A Ministry of Fisheries observer aboard Bheema Louwrens says another factor preventing bird deaths is that the big ships are also "clean ships" - they do not discharge fish waste or non-target species overboard.
But he says there is a wide issue: "We save a couple of birds using the wires, or we prevent sea lion deaths, but we are still taking their food."
The masters of the ocean are the albatross. Many albatross species are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Out east of Banks Peninsula we were joined by several critically endangered Chatham albatross (thalassarche eremite) - a subtly coloured bird. It is New Zealand's rarest endemic albatross and its entire population breeds on The Pyramid - a privately owned large rock stack in the Chatham Islands.
Also out checking the fishing were the Antipodean or wandering albatross (diomedea antipodensis) and from Dunedin's Taiaroa Head, the northern royals (diomedea sanfordi).
One hot afternoon, just out of easy identification range, a couple of albatross landed on the water and began a mid-ocean courting ritual.
That sent Louwrens racing for his camera.
Wedge-tailed shearwaters (puffinus pacificus) occasionally buzzed the boat. There may have been flesh footed shearwaters (puffinus carneipes) as well - infamous for their call, likened to that of cats fighting.
The smallest of the ocean birds is the most hypnotic for their speed and formation flying around the ship. Seldom flapping their wings, the cape pigeon (daption capense) uses the thin layer of air just above the water to bounce across the waves.
Tiny black and white birds, they are not pigeons at all, but petrels.
They got their common name for the way they peck the water for krill - and because of their presence at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Listed as being of the least concern, they've become habitual ship followers - and on many of the sub-Antarctic Islands they are a main meal for skuas.
by MICHAEL FIELD