Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Oamaru and Dunedin NZ

I took some notes as we drove from Mt. Cook to Oamaru.  I twice saw a large raptor, once flying and once sitting on a fence. Found out later they are a New Zealand Falcon. Also the duck I posted about on the last posting is a native New Zealand duck.
The green fields we see are irrigated. There is a bit of a drought here.  We also see a deer farm. I am getting confused as there are so many introduced animals. Everyone had a pet species that they just tucked in and brought along when they came here from the UK.
The only native animals here when man arrived were birds of many kinds, many flightless birds, reptiles, but no snakes, and three species of small bats. Seals and sea lions lived on the coast, but they are water mammals.
Everything else here people have brought. The Maori brought dogs intentionally and rats unintentionally.  English settlers brought all the rest. Rabbits to hunt in the 1800's and when rabbits became a pest 12 years later stoats, weasels and ferrets to kill rabbits. But that did not work out so well, as the predators, along with pet and feral cats found the ground nesting native birds much easier pickings.
People brought farm animals and animals to hunt and animals they were used to. I guess that accounts for the possums and hedgehogs.
It is hard to believe that the iconic New Zealand bird, the kiwi, is extinct in the wild on the North and South islands and is found in wild populations only in protected reserves on a few small islands.
March 31
Lake Pukaki looks so blue

small trees have been cut on the lake edge

Even brush has been cut down and piled. Don't know why.

This yellow limestone has many fossils and was used to build many of the old buildings in  Christchurch  and Oamaru.

up on lookout point at Oamaru

We then went to see yellow eyed penguins
We were high up on a viewing platform.
This is what they look like.
Sheep were is the road as we left the yellow eyed penguins

they were being driven across the road

after a bite to eat at the Star and Garter we head to the blue penguin sanctuary
sometimes they wander off
No pictures at the sanctuary. It is dusk and we watch 20 blue penguins scuttle ashore to their tiny houses. They are the smallest penguin weighing about 2 pounds.

April first we head to Dunedin.
Barry likes the penguins at our B&B

We stop at the Moeraki Boulders. Odd boulders formed 55 million years ago.

Some are buried in the sand.

There are a lot of them and they attract a lot of people.
Lots of people are trying to save the endangered wildlife of New Zealand. We stop at Orokonui, an ecosanctuary that is dedicated to breeding and providing a safe place for endangered birds such as the kakapo parrot.
The kakapo is a heavy parrot that does not fly much.
We are staying in a hotel that used to be the home of Christian Brothers.
The church across the street that the brothers were associated with.

Great place to sit outside for tea.
April second we head to the tip of the Otago Peninsula. The Royal Albatross Centre is another ecosanctuary. This one is mainly dedicated to the Royal Albatross.  But the cliffs they have walled off from predators are also home to many other endangered species of shore birds. These predators are ones men brought here; stoats, weasels, ferrets, cats, dogs and rats. Hard for birds who nest on the ground.
An albatross chick waiting for its parents. We saw one of the big birds come back while we were on the  viewing blind.
Having made a safe place for the birds on land the Albatross Centre is now working to provide a safe place at sea where the birds are endangered by long line fishing boats. If the bait hooks had a bit of weight on them they would sink too deep for many birds to grab. If they put the lines out at night, it would also save the birds.
We got back in time to do a bit more sightseeing around Dunedin.
Baldwin, the steepest residential street in the world.

The Otago Museum where I mentioned that they could  do more to clarify the role of man in changing the animal life in New Zealand.

The railway station
We are staying at The Brothers Hotel again tonight and will continue around the South Island in the morning.

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