I was driving along West Coast Road, Oratia, last Sunday, when I saw the blossoms of a tetrapanax plant bathed in sunshine and contrasting sharply with the dark bush. When I stopped to take a shot or two, I found to my delight that a monarch butterfly was gorging herself on the nectar, hanging upside down above me and presenting her best side against the blue sky.
Monarchs (danaus plexippus) are the most common butterflies in NZ, and in Auckland they are around on most days that are reasonably warm, although the numbers are much smaller in winter. Where we live now, there are very few monarchs throughout the year.
There is a butterfly tagging project going on, to find out more about the movements of these butterflies within New Zealand.