From Diary 2.
30. I start the day by seeing part of the huge botanical garden that is in Dunedin. On a hilltop inside the garden there is a small bird garden, mainly with local and Australian birds. In another part of the garden I see a skink, so now I have seen 2/3 of the island's reptile life.
Then I work my way up Baldwin Street, which according to Guinness' is the world's steepest street, probably 19 degree. It is steep, when heading up. Some genius has set up a drinking tap on top. Good sour in the legs, I take a local bus to the terminal, to get to Moerki. There is no bus until late this afternoon and it is sold out. City bus back to VI, which can tell me that there are no minibuses running to Moerki. New city bus out to the main road.
Stops under a bridge and climb up to the big road. I'm heading north and the road leads east-west! See another hitch-hikers (besides the deer farmer, I've only seen two others), he gives me the direction and tells me, he has been here for 3-4 hours. Uplifting, but by a kiwi I was really expecting a more sophisticated hiking.
I start walking, and am picked up by two cool guys in an American truck quite soon. May sit in the back, but off I go. They have to go off in a small town, so I tread on in a beautiful landscape. Watching a small farm that could turn into any romantic movie. On the way up a steep hill, inside a forest, a camper stops. There are two Texans and their daughter, that I was in Milford Sound with.
Driving and talking with them, until a sign shows to Moerki 3 km. Walking down to town, down to the beach, and just not seeing one of the big round balls, that should be there. Ask a local: Yes, this is where they are 45 minutes walk that way! Walk on the water's edge on the perfect sandy beach, where only a few interesting things have been washed up.
Reach the round boulders, which are of sandstone, with a skeleton of calcite. Pretty weird. Get a cup of coffee and a roll in the nearby cafeteria, and then walk about half an hour out the road towards Omaru, before a couple of nice people pick me up and drive me all the way to the YHA. I sign up and head to the nearby botanical garden. Pretty neat, but the only thing impressive is a Peter Pan stature.
There are supposed to be penguins down at the harbour, so I head down there. There are a few fur seals on the rocks just below the quay, but else, it is desolated. The little blue penguins only emerges, when it gets quite dark, so I head out along the coast, up on the vertical slope. Not seeing any penguins, but talking to a Scotsman, who suggests we drive out to the other end of the peninsula. He do not say that twice.
Out there, we meet a colony of yellow-eyed penguins. They are in the grass on the steep slope, 2-3 meters from us. There are a few Kiwis and two other Scots in the shed. They say there are some, who have just gone down the otherwise blocked off beach, and have scared the land-bound penguins away. We stand and talk and wait for a long time. The only thing that pops up, are the three guys who were previously down at the beach. Now they walk from the path, down into the colony. The others I stand with say to each other: Do something, go to them. No one wants to, so I roar at them to get out NOW! And they do so.
We head back to town, and I find an eatery serving grilled lamb. It is a little strange feeling to step into a totally foreign restaurant, and then get to know all 3 couples sitting in there. A couple from the YHA, where we share a room, a couple from the botanical garden where we talked about Peter Pan, and the last couple I talked to, down at the pier, where I showed them the seals.
Shovels a portion of lamb in me, and hurries down to the harbour. Halfway out on the pier, I meet the two young Scots. They will (surprise, surprise) not pay 35 DKK to see the penguins in the lighted space with the grandstand. They say they also cross the road here. In fact, I think they are right, because between some sheds, I can hear penguins. Nevertheless, I kindly go out and pay. I think it supports a good cause.
Stands for a long time, along with a lot of
other people, before the first bunch comes buzzing. A boy stands and
barks in a megaphone, and the little blue penguins (the world's
smallest) stand on the edge of the lighted square.
After a good while, the quirky little guys start to appear in front of me. At the same time, a Japanese is coming. The light cone sweeps over the penguins and they flee down to the water. The Japanese are chasing them fast in the car, and in his intense attempt to get all the way to the edge so that his family does not have to get out of the car, he is about to drive me over. He sits and laughs, I'm sorry that there are penguins down at the water's edge, otherwise he, his car and family would end up there!
31. The city once had its heyday, so there are many great monumental buildings. I also get to see the not very impressive greenhouses in the botanical garden, where I also come meet one, who was on the albatross tour. I'm beginning to understand how the rumour about me, can be faster than me. Although I travel fast, there are some who skip things, thereby overtaking me. I obviously make an impression on people, because several people I come across, and even someone I get a lift with, have heard of "a skinny, talking Dane with a black hat". That with the hat is true enough...
When the VI finally opens, they can't find a connection to the Peel Forest or Tekapo Lake, which doesn't take days. I'm lucky to get a no-show seat for Temuka, from where I get a lift to Winchester and another to Geraldine.
Walk in to VI ask for their big trees in the Peel forest. No problem, they call their minibus and he drives me out there, waiting while I walk into the beautiful forest. There are ferns and mosses everywhere, and finally I get to the big trees called Big Tree. About 1000 years, 31 meters high and 3 meters in diameter. Takes a few of the other small tracks and then drives back to town. Price for 1½ hour minibus: 25 DKK.
While I have been in the forest, buses and BP's have been booked for me at Tekapo Lake. I watch Geraldine for a few hours, get fried rice a'la Malaysia, and then ride the Kiwi Experience for 2 hours through unusually beautiful hills and mountains. The rain have stopped, and in Tekapo city, it is high summer.
Sitting and talking with some Dutch and a few Israelis, reading a few Footrot Flats in the original language, and then heading to bed at 23. Incidentally, New Year's Eve is not celebrated very much in New Zealand. No fireworks, and the next day the locals don't look particularly hurt. There is some live music downstairs at the inn, but I prefer to sleep.
1. When they don't celebrate New Year, they probably don't have New Year's resolutions either, which reminds me that there are incredibly few who smoke. The planes and airports have been completely non-smoking and so are most restaurants and offices. My New Years go on? Remember to enjoy life!
Book a seat in a bus at 2.30 pm and then trot around the area. First out along the lake shore, where there is a small church, and a statue of a sheepdog. Here I am being photographed by a Japanese family, while standing with my arm around my daughter. They think I am Kiwi, I let them stay in the faith.
Then down the river that runs from the
unbelievable turquoise blue lake. The colour is due to sediment from
the mountains, not the reflection of the sky.
A tour into a souvenir shop a little in town, and then drive towards Christchurch. It goes through a beautiful, but also quite scorched landscape. It's "El Nino" year, so the wind hasn't turned around like it used to in the spring. Therefore, the rain continues to fall on the west side and the east side is more dry than usual.
Arriving to Christchurch at 19, booking in
at Charley B's BP. Watching a few movies on TV, while all my clothes
are being washed. While walking around after dinner, I see the first
real Maori. The entire face is tattooed with powerful patterns. He
is probably my age. The Maoris are, by the way, "indigenous people".
Many signs also written in Maori, they have special rights with
regard to lands, and more. In fact, the first strays came 900 years
ago. They succeeded in exterminating a large number of animals, both
by direct hunting and by removing prey and burning forests. There
are about 10% left, and the vast majority in the North Island. Of
course, all the species of Moa have gone, the largest eagle that has
lived and lived by moas, also died. Of the original animals, only
kea and wakas are do well. The Maoris were so smart that they also
took rats and dogs to these predator-free islands. So there were
birds of prey already.
2. I wander around the huge commercial city, and find a newly opened aquarium. Pretty nice, very interesting. Some aquariums you walk under. In a backdrop of an old log cabin with fireplace and all, there is a boy standing and tying up flies.
I book a minibus for the Orana Park as there are no buses. 20 minutes outside the city, right at the airport is this nice zoo. Large lawns with water trenches around. They also have a large kiwi terrarium. While we observe an active Kiwi, I talk with a few Englishmen who think I'm local. OK, I adopted, among other things: "Yahh", "Have a good one" and "Good as gold".
When I have had enough of the zoo, I return to the city and go into the museum. Here's a great mix of dinosaurs, china stuff, Maoris, moas, minerals, contemporary art, mammals and bird stuffing. There is a special exhibition with spiders, but it does take a lot to impress me. Get thrown out, before I'm done with the museum.
Head out into the huge botanical garden. The
greenhouses are closed so I see the local faunas, wetlands and rock
3. I get picked up by a minibus, and drive out next to the airport again. Here is the International Antarctic Centre, which is the starting point and administrative for Antarctic research from all over the world. There is a large exhibition which shows a very exciting life, both for people and animals on the pole.
I get the girl at the front desk to call my minibus, which takes me to Willowbank Park. It turns out to be an old worn-out zoo, whose endangered livestock department is good. Here, the decay that one expects from old agricultural properties is real. Great atmosphere.
There are an awful lot of ducks and black swans, some otters, monkeys, antelopes, local birds, a 26-kilo eel as well as some smaller species, and not least a giant barn with kiwis. Spends a lot of time in there. While sitting squatting and watching one kiwi, another pricks me on the little finger. When it can touch me, I can touch it too, Incredibly soft furry plumage.
Have had enough, and get called my bus. Being
dropped off at the museum as I get to finished. There is even a
"Victorian museum" on display. Funny animals and fun nature things,
probably like Chr 7th Indian Museum.
4. Stroll naively into the city that, like
other New Zealand cities, can't even offer graffiti or dog shit.
Strange big cities. There are 120,000 living in Christchurch, but
whether it is everyday or Sunday morning, it seems extinct.