Kia Ora days 15 and 16 – mountains of everything

As we drove south from Franz Josef Glacier it became apparent that what the South Island is good at is excess. Mountains, lakes, empty and perfect highways, foliage. Boy does it do foliage and is it green. Like a rainforest here on the west coast.

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see, mountains lakes and green stuff.. what’s that little bit of yellow?

In fact it is too green. See the yellow? Broom. Beautiful. Lots of it. Lupins too (did you see them in the last post?). The thing is none of this colour is indigenous. It was all introduced by the white settlers who wanted to make NZ a little Britain or Austria or wherever. Odd, yes? If you see pics of rainforests they’re bursting with colour.

A bit if history. Before the Europeans NZ had no land mammals. Yep none. I think they might have had a bat or two but that was it. I heard the Maori, who it is thought came over from the 13th century on may have brought pigs but they were farmed and not allowed out. Basically the birds ran NZ. Big flightless buggers like the Moa and the kiwi and all sorts. So pollination was done mostly by birds who don’t need to be attracted by colour like insects. There’s a bit of white (Manuka for example, which provides loads of honey for instance). I don’t know if they had bees too; maybe but the lack of colour is fascinating hereabouts.

Now we, the Europeans but especially the British, are buggers for knowing everything and getting it wrong (please look out in comments for the Archaeologist correcting me here – if he does he will be right). In Australia we stopped the Aborigines from their managed burn of the under grasses causing massive and explosive forest fires of the eucalypts. Here we brought in domesticated animals but also rats off ships, deer and rabbits and chamois and will pigs and tar (a Himalayan goat) for hunting (the rabbits were such a success they were devastating everything so we had a great solution – to introduce the stoat (a type of weasel) because they caught and killed rabbits back home. Stoat are awesome survivors, eating damn near everything even their own young if the food is short so what did they do? Chase rabbits? No fear; they looked at all these naïve birds and thought ‘I’ll ‘ave some of that, chum’ and nearly wiped them out.)

We did they same thing with plants and grasses and trees (the Wilding Pine is a real nuisance apparently) so today a lot of time and effort is spent trying to curtail the immigrants and protect the locals (UK politicians would feel at home here just now but without the justification).

They farm Kiwi eggs; a new born have a 5% chance of survival; a one year old Kiwi an 85% chance. They work bloody hard to undo the wrongs of past generations.

Much the same as the Waitangi Commission seeks to restore fairness to the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi (see my earlier post). Basically we thought we’d taken sovereignty over the whole land, even while accepting we would pay a fair price for any land acquired; for the Maori it was like a management contract – they’d continue to own it for their descendants but we’d buy management rights. Never was anything more ripe for misunderstanding; never was it clearer that the Europeans knew exactly what they were doing.

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Lake Wanake, on the way south

Our drive south to Queenstown was long, wet at the start (well, they do have 200 days of rain a year on the west coast) and sunny later. We stopped at Haas Township, a bit of a two horse town but with a gem of a possum shop. Another aggressive introduced species the possum has a lovely warm soft pelt and either on its own or melded with Merino wool is divine. Of course we just browsed!

We stopped a few times. At Wanake we had a strange experience in the World of Puzzles.

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Silly man

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Oh you’re not meant to see the steps!


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Or just weird?

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above Queenstown

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and in panorama

The stop overs were worth it.

Queenstown isn’t exactly aimed at the culture vulture. Decent coffee, nice riverside restaurants but basically it’s the home in the South of the outdoor sports. And here Le Pard Cockup Holidays came into play again. My carefully reworked itinerary, in my head, had us driving all day to get here (400 km after all) and then starting this morning with a bungy jump. Only according to the actual itinerary the bungy was yesterday. So we awoke to a knock on the door from our B&B hostess to say our van was here to take us to the start of our Routeburn walk. I frantically checked the paperwork and sure enough I’d got it wrong. We’d missed our jump. To say the Lawyer wasn’t best pleased is an understatement.

Still never daunted we set off on our tramp and boy was it worth it. I had to put up with a degree of grief. He said it was deliberated and I had ‘bottled it’. I mean it is only the highest in the world at 134 metres so why would I have even half a second thought?

The jungle like setting, the tumultuous torrents and the gorgeous mountains really speak volumes for themselves. So, Wordless Wednesday, two days late.

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The boy done good.

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And after? What do you do if you’ve tramped all day?

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You experience the one cultural delight Queenstown has to offer. When Brian O’Driscoll, the most capped Irish rugby god and all round awesomeness arrived in Queenstown during the 2011 world cup he headed straight for Ferg Burger. It is an institution.

Let me leave you with something gentle and soothing

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About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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10 Responses to Kia Ora days 15 and 16 – mountains of everything

  1. What a pity about your bungy jump. I bet your retinas are glad but I suppose when you psych yourself up to be ready to do something it is disappointing. I’m enjoying your trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Archaeologist says:

    As my brother has suggested I comment on the matter of ‘knowing best and introducing alien species’, I am afraid it is just a human trait. If the British did more, then it was just because we travelled wider, as Napoleon said, ‘Wherever there is water to float a boat, you will find the British’
    Some introductions were very deliberate, goats would be left on uninhabited islands to breed and provide a resource of any shipwrecked sailors, it worked too, Alexander Selkirk virtually lived off goat when he was marooned.
    However the most devastating series of introductions was made by an eccentric, a very eccentric, American millionaire. He wanted to help his fellow countrymen understand the works of Shakespeare – by introducing to North America every animal mentioned in the works of the Bard. The annual cost today, of these misguided introductions, to American agriculture runs into millions of dollars.
    Some introductions worked, in that they added a species to the environment and didn’t do any harm. One was the brown trout in the Himalayas, it settled into the streams and lives contentedly alongside local fish, in one area the introductions were used as a form of community service punishment. Local Buddhist rulers didn’t believe in hurting anybody, including criminals and making convicts carry heavy buckets over mountains, in order to take fish to their new homes, satisfied their religion perfectly.
    Is this the sort of comment you were expecting?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks bro; exactly what I expected, even the defence of the British and the dig at the Americans! I’ve no idea where you get tales of Buddhist fish transporters and American Bard enthusiasts but great stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. willowdot21 says:

    Fabulous fabulous fabulous, History, geography, geology and not a bungy in sight… Sorry was that tactless. 😉


  4. Norah says:

    Love the photos. Stunning scenery. I think I would accidentally on purpose misread the bungy itinerary also! 🙂 (I’m just kidding, Lawyer. It really was on purpose, ah, I mean accidental!!!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lorilschafer says:

    Really interesting about the foreign flora and fauna introduction – probably because California is chock full of eucalyptus trees! This includes the giant one in my backyard that looks about ready to fall onto the house. Actually, because wildfires are so endemic to our landscape, they evidently pose a problem because of the way they burn – something about “popping” if I remember correctly – which spreads fires. There was a movement after the big Oakland hills fire to clear out the eucalyptus trees, but people seem as unwilling to part with them as the oddly placed palm trees that line many of our city streets, even up north here. I guess people just can’t help hanging on to their native life forms, no matter where they go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      In Oz the problem is popping or exploding. They are so full of oil then just go off. The aboriginals had 10,000 years to learn the best way to avoid the problem was to reduce the dry undergrowth by controlled burning. The trees seal themselves against a short sharp fire but if it goes on or goes high enough to catch the gpcrown you have a problem. We came along said, stop that, you can’t set fire to the wood not understanding it was a preventative measure.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Charli Mills says:

    Beautiful place, interesting commentary (like squabbling cousins…my country, your country…) and a soothing flow of water on rocks. Ah…


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