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Published: December 27th 2006
Christmas Eve went Christmas shopping (only for food and sunglasses for me (to replace the ones I'd left in Lesley's garden). In the afternoon we climbed the nearby Mt Iron coming across a very young quail hiding under the seat at the viewpoint on the top. Every time anyone with small children arrived they would gather round the poor thing making it impossible for the parents (if they were around) to get back to it. We did try and chase it into the nearby bushes but it soon returned. Don't know what happened to it but am not very optimistic.
Christmas Day - were awakened by the kids in the tent behind us at about 6.30. Beautiful sunny morning and already feeling warm. Eventually got up and had breakfast opened pressies - new t-shirts for both of us and new earings for Wendy and socks for Willy ( our main presents had already been sent back to Threemiletown). After breakfast we set off to climbeb the nearby Roy's Peak a 1560m hill some 6kms out of town. En route we picked up a couple of dutch hitchhikers heading off into Mt Aspiring National Park for a few days trekking. Dropped
Baby Quail on top of Mt Iron
Couldn't find its mother and kept hiding under seat on top of popular peak
them off and returned to the car park and set off up hill. Hot and sweaty ascent but once we attained the summit ridge the views were worth it. En route we had stopped for Xmas lunch - a banana, some chocolate and some dried fruit (all say aaahhh). On our return to the campsite Wendy caught up with our laundry before going oput for our 2nd Xmas dinner - a pretty good curry at the local Indian restaurant.
Willy's just left for a cigarette, so i get a shot. It's now raining heavily. It's been a kind of strange Christmas day - most of the people we met on the hill were European and all said "Hello" but nobody was making any mention of Chrsitmas. I think we just can't really believe that it is Christmas.
Time to mention the Department of Conservation (DOC) - can you imagine the UK devoting an entire government department to conservation? There's a hell of a lot of habitat conservation in NZ - and DOC also maintain signposted tracks and paths through them. (They also kill possums and hedgehogs and other pests that Europeans introduced, which destroy native plants and animals.
We were camped at the southern end of the lake
(Wasps, hedgehogs and gorse were all introduced). Some of the paths have taken a lot of effort to build and probably will require a lot of manitenance too. There are often toilets (spotlessly clean and with a decent supply of toilet paper, even if they're composting toilets in the middle of the bush) and sometimes picnic tables. DOC also have information centres wher they have leaflets about the walks in an area and they provide weather forecasts and info about mountain conditions, as well as people you can talk to about the DOC areas.
Three cheers for DOC and the NZ tax payers who fund it!
Merry Christmas everyone
On to the far south and the Catlins tomorrow - but it's a long drive.
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