Local Heart, Global Soul

July 13, 2014

The Flight Is Followed By A Long And Winding Road…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We land in Volos airport in Greece and my brother-in-law takes Himself to the car hire area, they are gone for over an hour because it’s busy, there’s a huge queue and only one staff member at the desk.

Murphy’s Law dictated that everyone in front of them in the queue had seemingly had ten thousand questions, problems with the size or price of the vehicle or their credit card or if it was a manual or automatic transmission etc.

The kids have exhausted their patience and have started behaving like battery hens that are kept in too close quarters to one another, sniping and poking one another and generally getting on each others (and eventually this parents) nerves.

I found myself in the role of referee and just like an International football game each child came to me as “victim” with exaggerated claims of injury or injustice done and wishes of unreasonably heavy punishment on the other whilst the perpetrator downplayed or dismissed every allegation and had some sort of excuse that usually involved heaping as much blame as possible on the victim as the one who started it all.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I start wishing if I can go to the airline booking desk and request two tickets for unaccompanied minors back to the Netherlands please.

They are even squabbling with their cousin, but I know that the main problem can be sourced as serious over tiredness and lack of decent food all day. What a difference a decent dinner will make.

First though we have a long drive ahead of us. The airport is rather a long way from the city of Volos, and then from there it’s another two and a half hours drive.

Luckily Kiwi Daughter and I have our anti-motion sickness wrist bands on because even then the winding roads and hills are testing for us both.

We follow our in-laws rental car as they lead the way. Somewhere way past Volos we stop at a supermarket right before closing time to stock up on breakfast supplies and a few necessities, and a snack dinner. The chance to stop moving for a while is most welcome.

Then comes the stop for fuel, and “entertainment” whilst we wait in the form of the various birds in cages situated on the side of the garage forecourt. As it gets darker the kids fall asleep and we weave our way through the darkness, following the tail lights of our in-laws cars as the bends in the road draw us closer and closer to our destination.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 29, 2013

Does A Cup Of Tea In a Historic Town Mean You Get A Very Old Brew?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Regular readers of this blog will know that I regularly take photographs out of the window of the car as we travel.

(Don’t panic, I’m the passenger, not the driver!)

It’s one of the few silver linings to my foot injury and ongoing ( read mind numbingly slow) recovery, that being unable to drive has allowed me to take in more of the detail around me as I travel.

As Himself concentrates on the the space between us and other vehicles, traffic lights, pedestrians, speed limits, trucks, cyclists and all other manner of traffic related things, I get to relax and look out for the quirky stuff.

Thaxted in England is a historic town that features Tudor buildings, and I now know from one of Kiwi Daughters homework assignments that the reason the ground floor level is smaller than the upper levels is because taxes were charged in Tudor times on the  surface area of the ground floor but didn’t take into account the surface area above it. It appears to confirm that tax evasion is probably the world’s second oldest profession.

I love the British sense of humour too: the sign that tells me that Thaxted is a historic town apparently depicts the things it’s famous for: the church,  Tudor buildings, old wind mills … and a cup of tea? A special cup of tea mayhap?  After all aren’t the British famous for drinking  cups of tea, all the time, everywhere? Or is this a reassurance that the nation’s favourite brew is not  a scarcity here? …or a reminder to drivers that it was possibly twenty minutes since their last cup, so surely it’s overdue  to put the kettle on?

Equally I also loved some of the place names of towns and villages we passed: who wouldn’t smile if you told them your home town was called “Howlett End Wimbish” ? and I dare you not to grin when you read that it’s twinned with “Tang Ting” in Nepal.  Full marks too  if you can say both these place names quickly ten times. Actually full marks if you even tried. Here’s a look out the window at the local scenery…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 11, 2012

Are These The “Now” Photos, Or The Future “Then” Photos?

Filed under: MALAYSIA,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are about to leave Melaka, but first let’s take a look around the rest of the town. I like taking “general” photos like this because it shows the real character of a place where locals live and work and the “normal” places as opposed to the touristic haunts.

Also it’s always true that every town and city is in a constant state of evolution, buildings come and go, fashion changes, so in a strange way I also want to leave a record of what it looks like in 2012 so that if one day I return  in the future I can compare the “then”and “now”.

And who knows?  Maybe even one day one of my children or grandchildren or great grandchildren will also enjoy travelling to far flung places around the world,  wouldn’t it be fabulous if they were also bloggers who documented their travels?

Wouldn’t it be cool if they found these places and took their own “now” photos and compared them to mine? (sigh) OK Kiwidutch, get real,  this scenario probably won”t ever happen…  and while you’re at it just admit that you just like taking photos of ordinary things, ordinary places, constantly, all the time. Yes, as usual let’s just enjoy taking a look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 10, 2012

Legs in The Photos and The Cops are Close by as We Discover Enduring Beauty…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As we leave  Melaka’s Dutch Square in our trishaws, we pass by some interesting buildings…  the first stands across the intersection from the Stadthuys and looks very oriental, and I am not sure but it may be the Information Centre (and there’s that strange road sign with the red spots on it again…  does anyone have any clues what it might mean?)

Alongside of the building I think is the information centre stands a police van… Little Mr. as if on clue is suddenly totally animated in his excitement that I need to urgently take photos before our drivers peddle us out of sight, then he spots the Police station nearby and more squeals ensue so yes, it is at his behest that these photos are on this page.

I spy a very tall tower in the distance… mobile phone mast maybe? and then there are the market stalls, and more interesting buildings as we follow other trishaws down the street.

Opposite more pink/red buildings I spy some parked up train carriages and a small aeroplane, and just around the corner from the first pink/red building is another one that according to the sign on the front is the “Museum of Enduring Beauty” (whatever that might be).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A stone’s throw further along is another building that is partly in the pink/red colour scheme but sports a white ground floor, there’s a sign that reads “Melaka Stamp Museum” and an information board outside that reads:

This building was the former Melaka State Museum, also known as the “Sekolah Gambar”. It was originally used as the residence for Dutch dignitaries living in Melaka. On 19th  March 1954, G.E. Wisdom the Resident Commissioner of Melaka converted this building to a museum. However in 1982, the museum was moved to the Stadthuys.

Now this building houses the Melaka Stamp Museum.and the Department of Museums and Antiquity has gazetted the building as an ancient monument according to Section 15 of the Antiquities Act 168/1976.”

Then we pass Bastion House which is the home of  the Malay and Islamic World Museum,  before the road curves somewhat and the Memorial Pengisytiharan Kemerdekaan with it’s bright yellow domes comes into view.  It opened in 1985 as a memorial to commemorate the service and sacrifice of all those involved in achieving the countries independence after almost four hundred and fifty years of colonial rule.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Inside are exhibits that pertain to historical events and outside are parked two small tanks which had been used in crisis times as well as cars used in the 1957 Independence day celebrations.

The Memorial Pengisytiharan Kemerdekaan building was formerly the Malacca Club,  was built in 1911 and is a combination of local and British architectural styles.

Then we see the  Porta de Santiago,  which is a small gate house that’s the only surviving remnant of the  “A Famosa”, a Portuguese fortress that once stood here. Wikipedia tells me:

In 1511, a Portuguese fleet arrived under the command of Afonso de Albuquerque. His forces attacked and defeated the armies of the Malacca Sultanate. Moving quickly to consolidate his gains, Albuquerque had the fortress built around a natural hill near the sea.

Albuquerque believed that Malacca would become an important port linking Portugal to the Spice Route in China. At this time other Portuguese were establishing outposts in such places as Macau, China and Goa, India in order to create a string of friendly ports for ships heading to China and returning home to Portugal. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The fortress once consisted of long ramparts and four major towers. One was a four-story keep, while the others held an ammunition storage room, the residence of the captain, and an officers’ quarters. Most of the village clustered in town houses inside the fortress walls. As Malacca’s population expanded it outgrew the original fort and extensions were added around 1586.

The fort changed hands in 1641 when the Dutch drove the Portuguese out of Malacca. The Dutch renovated the gate in 1670, which explains the logo “ANNO 1670” inscribed on the gate’s arch. Above the arch is a bas-relief logo of the Dutch East India Company.

The fortress changed hands again in the early 19th century when the Dutch handed it over to the British to prevent it from falling into the hands of Napoleon’s expansionist France. The English were wary of maintaining the fortification and ordered its destruction in 1806.

The fort was almost totally demolished but for the timely intervention of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, who happened to visit Malacca in 1810. Because of his passion for history, this small gate was spared from destruction.

With a sigh these sights slip past us as our trishaw driver delivers us back  to the Equatorial Hotel and our waiting coach… so much to see so little time…

postscript: Yes I know there is a pair of Barbie doll legs dangling down into the top of one of the photos, truth is that I have many more photos with the Barbie doll legs in them because every time I wanted a wider angle view there was no escaping them.

The photos sans plastic appendages were all taken zoomed in… and in the end I didn’t mind the legs too much, it was a nice distraction from the fact that I was travelling in a trishaw that had a giant spider on the roof (I hate spiders) ..at least by sitting underneath it I didn’t have to look at it. At least I’m in good company because French author Guy de Maupassant used to sit and eat his lunch under Tour Eiffel for the same reason.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Famosa

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 3, 2012

Go On… Take Me For a Spin!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are looking around Melaka in Malaysia as a side trip to our extended stopover in Singapore as we head back to the Netherlands from New Zealand.

I’m delighted to see colourful trishaws coming down the main street at regular intervals and as we make our way up the street they start to appear in even greater abundance.

Since many of them are so heavily decorated that they would put a Rio Carnival float to shame, they are hard to miss… but I find them fascinating and love the colours and floral additions.

Since I’ve been doing my fair share of walking on my crutches today, that later after we had seen a few of the sights we decided that this mode of transport would be an ideal way to get back to the bus which our guide tells us is now parked back at the Equatorial Hotel where we had lunch earlier. We also have a strict time limit  to get back the the bus by, so walking back isn’t going to be quick enough for me anyway.

She also tells us the amount that it should cost to get back there,  just in case a driver charges “tourist prices” instead of the correct fare.

I’m interested to gather a little more information about the tradition of trishaws so here’s what I found on Wikipedia:

The cycle rickshaw is a small-scale local means of transport; it is also known by a variety of other names such as bike taxi, velotaxi, pedicab, bikecab, cyclo, becak, trisikad, or trishaw or, simply, rickshaw which also refers to auto rickshaws, and the, now uncommon, rickshaws pulled by a person on foot.

Cycle rickshaws are human-powered, a type of tricycle designed to carry passengers in addition to the driver. They are often used on a for hire basis. Cycle rickshaws are widely used in major cities around the world, but most commonly in cities of South, Southeast and East Asia.

In Malaysia, pedestrian-pulled rickshaws were gradually replaced by cycle rickshaws (beca in Malay). Cycle rickshaws were ubiquitous up to the 1970s in cities. Since then, rapid urbanization has increased demand for more efficient public transport, resulting in dwindling cycle rickshaw numbers.

Today, cycle rickshaws are operated mostly as a tourist attraction, with small numbers operating in Malacca, Penang, Kelantan and Terengganu.

I love how different some of the styles are, from neat and beautifully arranged rows of plastic and synthetic flowers to the throw-it-all-together method in a more tacky fashion, all of these trishaws have a charm of their own.  One even sports batman wings…  and guess what?  To my children’s delight I was destined to be the lucky member of our tour party who turned up back at the bus in a trishaw decorated with a giant spider on top of the umbrella complete with  Barbie dolls clutched in some of the feet!   …eek!  but at least riding in that  one meant I didn’t have to gaze at it all the way back!

(Note: the Dutch word for “spider” is “spin”… so I do suppose that in this city with it’s Dutch historical influences,  you could  say I was  “going for a spin” in this  particular trishaw with no trace of irony whatsoever!)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycle_rickshaw

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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My favourite: one occasion when OTT looks amazing!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 16, 2012

Fasten Your Seatbelts, We are About to Land in a New Adventure…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,SINGAPORE,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If  I get the choice I like the window seat when we fly: I especially like  it camera in hand,  taking off or coming into land somewhere (in daylight) as these are the exciting bits of  flying that mean you are stepping into the next phase of your adventure.

Ok, truth be known I could do without all the hanging around at airports, the queues at check in,  the lines at passport control,  the opening bags and removing laptops and nebulizers for the security checks, getting to the gate, waiting at the gate and actual boarding…these are the boring bits, but necessary too.

Then I remember that my Father emigrated to New Zealand by ship and his one-way journey took six weeks via the “quick route” of the Panama Canal, so  it just goes to show how impatient people have become (well, maybe not you, but I’m guilty)  and how we take the speed of travel today so very much for granted.

On this trip we get to come into land in Singapore very early in the morning and although there is some hazy cloud at first whilst we are still about 40 minutes out from the airport, it quickly clears over Indonesia as we descend and I can start looking at the aerial views of Indonesia by the window.

I can’t move too much because Little Mr. has fallen asleep and whilst still in a semi upright position is leaving heavily on me.

Since he sometimes gets bad ear pain during aeroplane descents I’m trying not to wake him. Also a wheelchair will be waiting for me at the gate,  the system is  that we get to be  first on when boarding the plane but will be last off… so we aren’t going to be in any rush after we land anyway.

I know better than to try and fight Little Mr’s biological clock that, still on New Zealand time is telling him that it’s one or two in the morning, so the longer he sleeps now the better.

The plane gets gradually descends and just a few of the many islands of Indonesia that are closest to Singapore come into view… we see coastlines, islands,  inlets and bays with everything from fishing vessels, industrial areas, farms and what might be appartments, to jungle. Do I see mining?  Who knows.

Suddenly a familiar ribbon of ships appears,  more ships than I can count and you can easily see that far away on the horizon the number of them only increases… that’s the direction of Singapore harbour, one of the busiest ports in the world.

Then the tip of Singapore itself comes into view,  a less busy corner of the island with manicured golf courses and lots of green spaces… and then all at once the end of the runway appears… Trays have been returned to the upright position, (kid almost too), seatbelts are on and we are coming in to land…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 18, 2012

Kaikoura Icons, They Paint a Picture…

Filed under: ART,Mural,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sitting eating our fish and chips in Hine’s Fish and Chip shop gives not just a view of the main street that leads to the waterfront, but also across the road, where we can see part of yet another mural.

Himself had dropped us off in the main street earlier and then gone to find a parking space and by happenchance the van was parked just around the corner from this mural so it wasn’t any distance out of our way to go and check this out.

The mural has been painted onto the side of a factory shop and depicts the iconic scenes and items for which Kaikoura is famous.

In the background of the mural stands the Seaward Kaikoura mountain range,  with part of the Inland Kaikoura mountain range peeking out from behind since both sets of mountains are parallel to each other.

In summer they are beautiful enough, but in winter with a capes of white snow down to low levels they are a stunning backdrop to this little town. In the extreme foreground are the round grey pebbles that make the beach-front here instantly recognisable.

On the right in for foreground a seal stares directly at us, behind the seal the flukes of a whale are emerging out of the water as the whale does a graceful salto in this southern corner of the Pacific Ocean.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sperm whales can be seen in Kaikoura all year round and they are frequently joined by Blue, Pilot, Minke , Beaked, Humpback, Southern Right whales and Orcas too.

To the right of the seal is a pendant in the shape of a Kowhaiwhai , which Māori believe represents the importance of strong and loving family ties. Historically were made out of whalebone but I think that cow bones are used these days.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Between the beach and the sea, to the left of the whale flukes is a  Māori pāua  necklace in the shape of a Koru, a shape that takes it’s inspiration from one of the yet unfurled fronds of the  New Zealand’s silver fern.

Nature knows how to mathematically and aesthetically impress: the form of the silver fern before it begins the unfolding process is a perfect example of the Golden Mean / Golden Ratio .

This is a mathematical ratio of 1 : 1.618, the proportions which are considered to be most one of the most aesthetically pleasing know to man since they represent perfection, perfect balance and divinity.

For Māori the form and symbolism the Koru has great spiritual importance and represents life, awakening, transformation, renewal, peace, harmony, tranquillity, and eternity.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In the background between the Koru and the large  pāua shell to it’s left,  dolphins play. Bottlenose, Common and Dusky dolphins are all found locally and if you are lucky you might even spot a Hectors dolphin (one of the world’s smallest and rarest) near the mouths of local rivers or by the Haumuri Bluffs.

At the far left of the mural is greenstone pendant,  known as  pounamu in Māori which is a type of  green nephrite jade found in New Zealand’s South Island.

Both greenstone and bone pendants have great spiritual significance too: they are meant to be worn against the skin where they can absorb the spirit of the wearer.The pendant is then passed down through generations, keeping connections with generations past alive and strong.

The twists in the pendant also have meaning: they represent the intertwining of two cultures,  friendships or lives. The loop is continuous so also represents eternal love, friendship or the lifelong bond between cultures.

The large  pāua shell in the mural is of course not just an icon of Kaikoura but also of New Zealand and I’ve written a little bit about it already here:   https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/new-763/

Finally, the seagull that wheels in the blue clear skies is generally typical of any beach anywhere in the world and here in Kaikoura is no exception…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 15, 2012

Kaikoura: Where One Lobster Is Almost Whale Sized…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The kids have burnt off only a fraction of their excess energy after the seal-walk that wasn’t…  so we assure them that it’s not too far to Kairoura and that we will make a decent stop in the town.

It’s practically impossible to miss that Kaikoura is famous for Whale Watching and for Lobsters… like many things, when I was a kid it was a loosely kept secret, there were no queues, no mass tourism per se and if you “knew someone who knew someone” who had a big enough boat then there was a good chance you could catch a whale watching trip of your own.

I did, several times in my early twenties, and both time braved some pretty bad sea-sickness to try and catch a sight of a whale up close. I do have to admit that on the first trip out the sea was millpond calm and yes, I was still sea-sick.

On the second trip it started off calm enough but after being out for some hours it  started to come up choppy so we were forced to race at a rather breakneck speed to shore as the swells around us got bigger and bigger.

I didn’t feel so self conscious on that trip because  there was only one’of the half a dozen passengers on the boat who wasn’t sick, but by the looks of him that was only due to the steeliest determination I have ever seen, before or since.

I remember marvelling at how clamped shut his jaw was and how his face remained set in one stony facial expression the entire trip back.  Upon reflection as I write this down,  I now wonder how many days it might have taken before he could move his face again.

On both of these trips the skippers had put underwater microphones into the water as we bobbed out over the deep water so that we could listen for whale calls. We could hear them there were kind of clicking noises as the sounds were picked up (technology is sure to have advanced massively these days) and there had been sightings in both spots earlier in the day but sometime the whales take on air, make a very deep dive and stay submerged  for hours.

Like most things connected to natural events it’s largely a matter of luck, and on both occasions we didn’t have any.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

These days Whale Watching is the biggest commercial earner for this small town, I hear that the boats used these days are far bigger and that booking is essential in the summer high season. We find path that leads to a board-walk along this part of the beach.

Little Mr is the first to spot the whale watching helicopter (I’ve been on that too in the past, but that’s another blog post) and to come running up the beach as fast as his legs could carry him (not easy running on all these loose stones) to breathlessly demand that I take photographs please.

I obliged his request and then sat and sweated on the board-walk  for the safety of my DSLR when Kiwi Daughter took  her first  few photos of the surf  breaking on the shore. ( This stony beach and crutches being completely incompatible).

Himself and the kids collect a few stones from the beach to add to our “beach archive collection” and mindful of the impending excess baggage charges we would invariably incur if  no action was taken, Himself spent the next 15 minutes sneakily removing a sizeable quantity of very decent sized stones that Little Mr thought to be the most excellent specimens on the beach, and replacing them with their far tinier cousins.

The joke is that when I pulled the tiny plastic bag of stones out of the suitcase in The Netherlands, Little Mr proudly pointed out “his” stones, completely oblivious to the fact that the ones he pointed to were a tenth or a twenthieth of the size of the ones he chose on this Kaikoura beach.

One day when he’s older he will read this blog and realise he’s been hoodwinked all the while. I might have to tell him that I decided to clean them and that they shrank in the wash. Do you think he will buy that?

More squeals of excitement erupt when the kids spot a “shark” in the water… err no kids,  it’s not a shark, it’s a seal and I do my best to grab a photo but it keep diving and moving further away. Eventually the kids grow tired enough to realise that their stomachs are rumbling and our next task is to look for a very special and even (gasp) world famous eatery.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This isn’t the eatery we are looking for, but when they boast that the lobsters from Kaikoura are huge… they weren’t joking!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 14, 2012

We’ve Found The Seal Pup Crèche! … But They aren’t Playing the Game…

At last we’ve found the place we were trying to find on more than one holiday here (but missed both the trip before this and on this trip on our way north) This post tells all the details: https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/new-633/.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We make our way to the track that the sign-post points to, and begin to follow the stream inland.

After a few gentle twists and turns the relatively flat path begins to climb and then all of the sudden we come across an elevated railway bridge that leads directly into a tunnel.

On the other side of the stream we pass under the rail bridge and are immediately confronted with a steep staircase going up to the right.  There’s hand-rail so I gingerly pick my way up to steps but once at the top I see that the track starts to wind it’s way even further upwards between the trees and the path has shrunk to half the size it was below.

Himself and I look at each other… this is clearly no place for me on my crutches as the path consists of the  uneven and still rising muddy leafy forest floor and  I’m still on the slow road to recovery from my accident I’m in absolutely no hurry to add anything new to my injuries.

Deciding that discretion is the better part of valour I leave Himself to catch up with the kids who have bounded ahead and retreat very carefully back down the steps and start making my way back to the car.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The walk to the waterfall is supposed to take ten minutes but they caught me back up before I had reached the road, apparently having sprinted up the track for five minutes, it got steeper and muddier as they progressed and then they met people coming back down the track who told them that the view of the waterfall was lovely but that they were disappointed because there wasn’t even one baby seal up there at all at the moment.

The kids and Himself had a quick confer and decided that if there were no seal pups up there then they didn’t want to continue so they turned around and came back too.

Finally we know where to find the seal pups, but nature likes to keep a few secrets sometimes, and we weren’t lucky today.

The information sign-board at the entrance of the path reads:

NAU MAI HAERE MAI

Welcome to the takiwa (territory) of Ngati Kuri and this beautiful whenua (land). This block of land is owned by individual whanau (families) of Ngati Kuri who, along with the Department of Conservation, invite you to enjoy this unique wildlife experience.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kekeno / New Zealand Fur Seal

The seals that you see along the Kaikoura coast are unique to New Zealand and are known to Maori as Kekeno. This coastline with it’s rocky outcrops, nooks and crannies provide excellent breeding habitat protection for young pups from storms that hit the coast.

Population Still Recovering

Seals were hunted around the coasts of New Zealand by Maori and European sealer’s for food and skins. Hunting was banned in 1894 but not before the whole population had almost been completely wiped out. New Zealand fur seals are now making a steady comeback in many parts of the country. The current population is estimated to be approximately be 10-20% of the original population.

Exploring and socialising.

Between April and October these pups explore their surroundings, developing their swimming and social skills. They make their own way up to the waterfall and are not lost.

In the middle of winter over 200 pups can often be seen playing together in the water and resting beside the stream and pool. Seals are highly social and gregarious species, so these early playful antics strengthen important social bonds. This energetic physical activity builds powerful muscles and develops coordination: attributes needed to become effective marine hunters.

Returning to the Coast.

Each spring the number of pups at Ohau stream starts to fall once they are weaned (at about 10 months) .

They then stay on the coast and begin to use the skills they developed here to hunt for food at sea.  At four years old females join the breeding colony. Males will remain in the area but will not breed until the they are least 10 years old when they are  strong enough to win a harem (8-10 females). Fur seals live for about 15 years.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 10, 2012

Farming… (Something) But I’m Not Certain What.. Any Ideas?

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As the Ferry makes it’s way further into the Marlborough Sounds, we come across a bay that at first I thought just had a very fancy jetty reaching out into it.

Then I wondered if it were some kind of floating pontoon… an anchourage for more boats perhaps?

Then, on the right hand side of the same large bay I see parallel lines of buoys in the water… mussel farming? fish farming? lobster ? something else?  I’m guessing wildly because I have no clue what’s being farmed here, although clearly “something”  is.

The Ferry of course stays in the deep water in the middle of the Sound, so I have to make do with zooming in as much as I can, but as we go past I can make out some square-shaped pens that appear to be at the end of the long pontoon “thingy”, (technical I know! LOL)  so might there be more than one kind of farming going on here?

I’m curious but clueless… so  if you have any ideas what this stuff in the water might be I’d love to hear your comments…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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