It’s great to have a ‘not much’ day every so often on our trips and Monday proved to be it.
While our travelling companions did car things (nail in tyre, electric window failure) Ros and I went for a couple of hours walk along the edge of Lake Te Arnau to Brod Bay.
The walk started in reasonably dry forest, which then changed to taller trees with many ferns and then still more canopy with mosses at ground level. There were numerous streams running into the lake and pleasant pebble beaches around the shore line.
All along the walk were traps for non native animals that have devastated the native bird population. Stay with me a moment here: NZ only has 2 land based native mammals, being the short tailed and long tailed bats, each only less than a hand in size. Otherwise the land based population is only birds whose only real predator is larger birds. Over the years many of the birds no longer needed to fly and used as their defence from these predator birds complete stillness: if you are not moving you cannot be seen because of the camouflaging colours of your feathers. Moving forward, Europeans introduced rabbits that overran the place so they introduced weasels (called stoats here) to catch the rabbits. However, why chase a fast moving rabbit when a plump bird is standing still in front of you!
A major eradication program is now in place, with numerous islands having been cleared of rabbits, stoats, mice and rats and the native birds reintroduced. In the parks there is a trapping program in place: wooden boxes baited with a hen’s egg with a trap to catch the unwanted invader. And the country is having some success with this as native bird species repopulate.
John then washed the car (unfortunately the next day we drove through rain).
We enjoyed the ambiance of the local pub for dinner where the meals were huge and Ros enjoyed trying numerous wines to select the night’s pinot!
Next day was a reasonably long drive up into the alps for a night at Tekapo on Lake Tekapo.
Not many pictures of the scenery, except when we arrived at Lake Pukaki where one takes ‘the picture’ of Mt Cook and the very blue waters of the lake. Unfortunately the mountain was initially shrouded in cloud, but did lift allowing for a reasonable picture.
Here we found a monument to an unusual item, the introduction of tahr into NZ! In 1904 the Duke of Bedford gifted 6 tahr to the government because he thought they might like the alpine hills. They did and eventually over 40,000 were eating away the alpine grasses! It continues to amaze us what animals and plants have been introduced into NZ (and Australia too for that matter) with subsequent significant and devastating effects.
On to Tekapo for the night.