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Published: January 7th 2012
January 6, 2012
Hello to all and happy new year ! Wow, 2012 already.
We are currently in the charming city of Nelson, in the North of the NZ South Island. Nelson is known for its sunny climate, attractive wooden houses and as the jumping off point for nearby Abel Tasman National Park.
We arrived in Nelson having driven up the length of the West coast, a ruggedly beautiful part of NZ where temperate rainforest meets the beach meets glaciers - like on other place in NZ. We finally encountered some rain which put us off seeing Fox Glacier that arvo, but the next day was good and we did the walk to Franz Josef Glacier instead : a massive river of ice extending down the valley and flanked by lush forest. However, you cannot get as close to the ice as I have done previously. (I have a photo of Pat actually touching it in 1995 - but they have roped it off further back due to some ice falls causing tourist casualities in recent years.) You can now get about 100m from the ice - still very impressive though.
Mum and Dad did very well to walk the 1.5 hr return track to the glacier, along a track that traversed through forest and across the rock strewn moraine. Mum, wearing a dark green jacket with yellow trimming on the hood, powered on in front, Dad trailed behind, while I was walking somewhere in the middle. There were lots of other people on the walk and we became a bit spread out in our walking. When Dad finally caught up with Mum and I at the glacier face, he said to Mum:
"I was waving to you several times, but you did not wave back."
"I never noticed that."
"Several times I waved and you bloody ignored me." He then admitted that he realised what he was waving at was, in fact, a stout dark green pole with a yellow line on it, marking a past flood level.
There is a new kiwi breeding centre at Franz Josef Village, which of course I had to visit. Mum and Dad accompanied me into the nocturnal house, where were saw a number of them foraging about. But, under the low lighting, Dad had trouble seeing them, and when we pointed one out at the feeding tray, he claimed that it looked like a "fat guinea pig with a straw in its mouth." Anyway, I paid extra and got a "behind the scenes" tour of the facility, which was excellent, and included some up close and personal encounters with recently hatched kiwi chicks (and I was able to take pics). ( A chicken chick takes about 24 hours to break out of its shell, using its beak, while a kiwi chick takes up to one week ! because - unusually for birds- its nostrils are at the tip of its beak, as are numerous sensory pits, and its this makes it very sensitive and not the easiest thing to use to break out of a shell.)
It was in the forest surrounding Franz Josef Village that I spotted a bird and I had hoped to see - a tui. The tui is shiney black in colour, with a pair of white pom pom-like balls of feathers just under its beak, and a highly amusing ramshackle song. I got some good pics and crossed another species from my list ! (and the local beer of the same name is good too).
<address>We then drove North, thru the jade-making town of Hokitika, and then Punakaiki, location of the amazing pancake rocks, (Rock formations on the coastline that resemble stacks of pancakes). We stopped overnight in Westport, a famring hub of little note, but somewhere to break the driving. We had surprisingly delicious dinner at a local pub called the Denniston Dog ,(Mum had one of those stone grills, where they bring the raw meat for you to cook yourself on a fucking hot stone slab).</address>
Only a few days left , bye for now.
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