Feb 12, 2008

Fancy a shag?: New Zealand part two

Posted by Tom |

Since we've now been back for the better part of a month, I figured it's time to get off of my ass and publish some more New Zealand photos.

After Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula, it was time for Mary and I to pick up our wheels. This is a Toyota Corsi (the "Cynthia" model, if a 1.3L engine isn't emasculating enough). I think it a late model directly from Japan, which was problematic because it meant the radio only worked on lwoer Japanese frequencies and couldn't pick up anything. This was even problematicer (that's totally a word) because Mary misplaced her iPod in Christchurch, leaving us music-less until we finally picked up some Willie Nelson and Cyndi Lauper tapes later in the trip. Radio notwithstanding, I liked the car, which had enough legroom for me - though getting in and out was a challenge - and got something like 40 mpg.

Mary at the Moeraki boulders on the east coast of the South Island. Some sort of weird geological processes created a bunch of perfectly spherical boulders that now sit on and around a beach. The biggest ones, as you can see, are more than 5 feet around, while all of the smaller ones have been rolled off as souvenirs.

This bird is called a shag. Mary and I were at a good penguin-watching spot on the east coast, near the boulders, when this guy calmly walked over to us. We watched in amazement (we kinda thought it was a penguin, which seemed odd, as they assiduously avoid humans) as it just kept coming and, when it reached us, promptly started trying to peck at my feet. This went on for several minutes, to Mary's great amusement.

Once we discovered (from an amused local) that I was not in fact being attacked by a rare yellow-eyed penguin, we went off in search of the birds again. As you can see, we found some. We had been looking for an hour and had all but given up when we spotted this one ducked behind a protective fence. The highlight was when he(?) walked forward a few purposeful steps, stuck out its butt, and let out a forceful poop, accompanied by a farting noise so ridiculously overblown that Mary and I could barely keep from cracking up. It was a Kodak moment.

We spent Christmas at a rather amazing hostel outside of Dunedin, on the East Coast of the South Island. It's built on the grounds of an old insane asylum, and the current owner has filled up all the old asylum buildings with an assortment of junked cars (for no apparent reason.) A spectacularly relaxing place, where I spent Christmas morning surfing (trying to, anyway) and we spent Christmas night drinking German alcoholic punch and enjoying a barbecue on an old blacksmith's stove. Interesting group of guests: we were the only native English speakers there; everyone else was from Germany or Hong Kong. Mary and I are on the couch in the photo.