Travel Challenge – The Results, Day Nine

You kindly followed me through ten days of travel pictures, guessing where each one might be. I thought I’d put you out of your collective miseries/make you punch the air with a ‘Yes, I was right’ with a follow up.

Day nine was

During a delightful month I spent in New Zealand with the Broker, my son, at the end of 2014. This is from the World of Puzzles in Wanake which I featured in this post…

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 of 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 and deer, rabbits and chamois 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 the 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 (not).

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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 300 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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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 deliberate 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.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. 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.
This entry was posted in miscellany, New Zealand, travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Travel Challenge – The Results, Day Nine

  1. willowdot21 says:

    What a fantastic place 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had no idea what I was unleashing when I nominated you for this. Silly me. Well done

    Liked by 1 person

  3. V.M.Sang says:

    NZ is about the only antipodean place I have any desire to visit. Australia has too many things that want to kill you! I’ve always thought it looks like a beautiful place.
    What a pity the early settlers didn’t have the knowledge we have about the dangers of introducing immigrant species. We have a problem here, too, though. Everyone knows about the grey squirrels, but there are also many others.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Erika says:

    This must have been such a wonderful vacation. I can only imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. noelleg44 says:

    My brother and his wife spent a month in NZ and declared it an amazing and gorgeous place! Your pictures confirm that!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. JT Twissel says:

    Since I doubt I’ll have get that far, I’m enjoying your travels!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Eileen says:

    Always wanted to see New Zealand, but the distance is a bit much from Tennessee. My Dad said New Zealand around Christ Church was his ideal of what Heaven should look like. He died there of a heart attack in his sleep on his return from his second Science reporting trip to Antarctica. He was only 52, but if you have to die, going in your sleep in a place like heaven has to be the way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Gosh, that’s some ending. Tough on you and your family but for him, maybe, hopefully not so much. And it is a great country if seismologically unstable so a touch nerve rattling

      Like

  8. Chel Owens says:

    I remember a children’s story like this, where the cats were brought in to eat some mice; dogs to chase cats; goats to get dogs… I believe they ended up with elephants and therefore had to go back to the mice again.

    Liked by 1 person

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