Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Zealand: Land of the Kiwis?

The reason I ask is because we never saw a kiwi--the bird, not the person or the fruit--the whole time we were there. Due to NZ's geographic separation from the rest of the world, the indigenous flora and fauna are distinctive, the animals mostly birds and marsupials--sheep and cattle, of course, but they are introduced species.

Well, we did see some birds, starting with the seagulls at the wharf in Paihia:

Also, we spotted what may be Tui. Well, we definitely spotted some Tui, but that was the brand of beer; I mean that on the way to our bush walk above the bay, we saw some very colorful birds and I caught a snapshot. You have to look pretty close, but the brightly colored objects in the trees may be them:

At one island stop on the boat tour, Your Ship's Captain told us that the island's owner (choice, eh?) had let loose three kiwis some years ago, and now there was a thriving community that numbered about 17. We didn't spot them, but we did see some pied shags, better known as cormorants, in a tree:

Finally, fauna-wise, we had given up on seeing dolphins, much less swimming with them, when a small pod was sighted as we made toward Russell (across the way from Paihia, it was NZ's first capital). It's not much, but here are the best pics I got of them:

The national plant of new Zealand--a stylized version adorns the uniforms of sports teams like the All Blacks, the 'Qualmark' symbol of approved tourist accommodations, even the embroidered sweatshirt I bought in a souvenir shop at Bay of Islands--is the silverback fern:

However, quite common on the North Island, and more stunning in my view, is the Norfolk Pine:

On the Urupukapuka Island we saw what Andy dubbed the Dr Seuss trees:

The morning I arrived in Auckland, Andy had already gotten the lay of the land and decided we should visit Auckland Domain, the main city park, which had numerous trails, a big museum, and a hothouse. Remember you can click on the thumbnails to see a full-sized photo:

The Rotorua Domain didn't have a hothouse--kind of surprising when you think about it--but it did have a Scented Garden "donated for enjoyment by the blind and all garden lovers." This was appropriate, considering the aromas otherwise so keenly observed by the town's olfactory-enhanced visitors.

Finally, here are some lemons, in the middle of winter:

1 comment:

Christopher said...

For the record, the Tui is black with a white patch under its chin, but they are quite common in Northland. I have seen them in the Whangarei town centre along with native pigeons.
You'll be lucky to see a kiwi in the wild, for one, they are vary rare, and also they are nocturnal.