One flew over Hectors River

"It's the smallest member of the Phaethontiformes…" he explains.

I ask which one he means. The White-tailed Tropicbird again?

"Yes, that's the one," he smiles.

We've already seen the white bird several times that evening. I'm starting to recognise it; the long tail feathers, the large wingspan with patches of black, the orange-yellow bill. But the parade of exotic animals is starting to blur together. I'm out of practise.

"We'll soon fix that," the man promises. "You've already been at it for three hours!"

Three hours? The time has flown by so quickly since climbing up to the top balcony of the grand Hectors River home in the early evening.

"That's nothing," he laughs, before launching into an anecdote of how he once spent the night just to catch a glimpse of that elusive white tail.

The house, he explains, is ideal for bird-watching, providing you can ignore the breathtaking sea view. The balcony overlooks the surrounding greenery, perfectly positioned for enjoying the area's endemic species – and for spotting a free table in the bar at the end of the lane.

"Great nightly entertainment," smiles my avian-loving companion. It's hard to tell if he's talking about the bar or the birds.

Whichever he means, it's easy to see how you could spend a night there. With its lavish, hand-painted walls and high-vaulted wood ceilings, the half-acre piece of real estate is an impressive place to rest your head. Each floor has two contained flats to accommodate guests, which can open up into a larger living area for larger groups. There are even three kitchens, in case the birdwatchers get peckish. My friend informs me that a fourth kitchen is on the way.

I take a pause from looking at the fruit trees to admire the grounds around the building. In the dimming light, I can make out lots of parking space and a BBQ. I think back to the five bathrooms I saw earlier and the two verandas.

"With all the rooms and the space and that view, why not turn the home into a guest house?" I ask. I'd already been told that the building hosted several wedding receptions in the past, as well as local community events.

Surely the visitor potential would see anyone's investment take flight?

My friend pauses. He smiles, then turns back to the landscape.

"What do you know about butterflies?"

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