July 2013

Wellington Visit (20th- 23th May) Of main interest was Some’s Island in Wellington Harbour and of course Te Papa (our place), the national museum.  Shirl wasn’t feeling too well so it was just Karla and I who hopped onto the plane for the short, but very expensive, flight to Wellington. We sussed out the ferry times and such the first afternoon and the next morning we caught the ferry to Some’s Island. What’s so special about this island? Well, over the years it has been a Maori stronghold by a number of tribes to a prison camp during World War 1, to a quarantine station and now a Maori owned wildlife sanctuary managed by the Department of Conservation. We spent most of the day wandering around the 24.8 hectare island.  We were looking forward to observing much native wildlife but we were quite disappointed really. Sure, we were able to see many native Red Crowned Parakeets but no other rare species. We did find some of the giant Cook Strait weta’s and several skinks though.

Wellington Itself: It seemed like most of the people walking the streets were wearing all black. Black trousers, coats, shoes, stockings, bags – maybe it is the uniform of the government bureaucratic people? Surely it wasn’t a blind following of the uniform of the All Blacks? If so, I think they are a little out of date as the All Blacks of today have so much writing on their jerseys that they could soon be called the All Greys. We rode the cable car to the end and walked back through the Botanical Gardens. Of interest was the number of birds feeding on the seeds of a Japanese Cedar. Many goldfinches, greenfinches, tuis and what looked like a rosella. One all black bird flew past in what looked to be a raven or crow. Maybe it was just a seagull following the local all black fashion?

We called in on the Parliament buildings and were able to join a tour which included a short walk on the floor of the debating chamber that divided the house. The space between the the government and the opposition is the length of two sword blades and in the centre is a red line, which neither side could cross – hence the saying toed the line. Was this two sword lengths apart the start of an Occupational Health & Safety outfit?

Te Papa or Museum of New Zealand: Most displays seemed to be targeting children, and a heavy maori influence in abundance. There seemed to be a continual stream of school groups on the move enjoying the experience with many things for them to try out; tracing drawings, an interactive area making poetry; a machine where they could even make their own coins and even a special kids shops. There was a Moa poo game in which one could find out what  the big bird ate – each having a “poo factor”. All very interesting to the children I’m sure. A grand piano with the complete woodwork carved in Maori designs and all painted a bright red was something to see.

TePapa MuseumBut the most interesting to me was The Golden Days  which was a show of some of the things of the past. We queued to pass through the entrance to an old house into, what looked like a second hand shop or an antiques shop of today. We sat on chairs overlooking these old items which were stacked in front of the shop window. Cars and people passed by outside and then the old man shopkeeper went out and closed the windows shutters. A movie then starts of older New Zealand happenings, disasters and such. A new born baby represented the nation as it grew with the parents taking photos over a period of time.  During the show at suitable times, lights would shine on some of the relevant objects in the shop as with the child’s parents taking photos – an old photo album inside the shop suddenly opens showing photos of a baby. When the America’s cup was won, the light shone on models of sailing ships which rocked to and fro. When dairying was mentioned on the big screen, the light fell on a stuffed cow’s head and it even moved and mooed. News was read, with an old radio in the spotlight along with the morning bird call – a stuffed tui in a cage came to light. When the Queen visited, toy soldiers started marching, flowers popped up upon a happy event. A cricket ball rolled across in front of us – was that the underarm bowling incident? One wasn’t sure whether to watch the screen or keep an eye on the objects on the shop floor. At the end the spotlight fell on the photo album again and it suddenly slammed shut. Then the old man shopkeeper came out onto the street front again and pulled the shutters down revealing the outside world of people hurry by on the footpath with cars, trucks and buses passing on the road. And that was that – the shop was now open.

The Book Fair (3rd – 9th June) I love this annual event and so I bought a week’s pass and went three times. This is a fundraiser for the local Lions club held at the Founders Heritage Park in Nelson which consists of people throughout the year donating unwanted books and then early each June having a week of sales. Naturally, there are heaps of fiction but I head for the classics first to see if I can pick up any of those old titles that I haven’t read, then over to the British Isles section to hopefully pick something up from Cumberland or Northumbria. Not likely but ever hopeful. This year I did find “The Folklore of the Lake District” and of course there were a number of Cumbria magazines which are always worth a look. In the past I’m sure I’ve come across relations mentioned in these. Another was “Round Carlisle Cross” which has a chapter on Rickerby House and Park. Sometimes one comes across an obvious collection of titles which makes me feel quite sad. Some person has over the years built up this collection and all for nought, after they have passed away no doubt. Nevertheless, I value them and thank these unknown people who perhaps involuntary pass them on.

IMG_2987 copyThe Anchorage Walk, Abel Tasman National Park (11th June)

It was a perfect winter’s day. Arriving at Marahau, I wandered ahead of our walking group to the boardwalk over the estuary flats with the hope of spotting either a Marshcrake or a Banded Rail but a young Kingfisher  resting on the handrail watched me instead. He soon flew off over the reeds of the tidal flats and as I watched him I noticed some movement in some rushes. Sure enough it was one of those elusive marsh birds but which species, I don’t know. They are certainly very sneaky but it is good to know that they can survive so close to so much human activity. Being just inside the national park and no dogs about would be the reason that they still survive here no doubt. We started the walk around 8.45am and arrived at Appletree Bay. A sunny spot was selected on the golden sands to have morning tea with the island of Adele in front of us. A seagull fed out of a person’s hand while a chaffinch was rewarded for hanging about. Back on the track again, I spotted some bright red flowers of a rata and some fresh pig sign along the edge of the track. Crossing a bridge one couldn’t help but notice a patch of bright scarlet on the banks of a creek below. It was a small patch of fungi about ten in all, which I think might have been of the Weraroa species, going by the common name of Red Tobacco pouch fungi. There was another type too, of a more traditional type of mushroom but of a pale yellow colour and covered with spots which seemed to be holes. There were a number of small ‘clumps’ of them and although of a pale colour, quite exquisite even so.  Along past Yellow Point and on and down to Anchorage in time for lunch at 12.30pm. It seemed as if a rebuild of the DoC hut was in progress and a very pleasant spot to be working in on such a day too. A number of California quail ran about the lawn of the DoC staff hut nearby and clucked away, as they do, while we had lunch. A heron black flew past or so it seemed in the light so I followed it but it was just a dark blue colour. On the way back, I spotted the footprints in the sand of a good sized red stag. They were fresh too but most likely he trotted bye in the early hours this morning. I was surprised though of a large animal living so close to much activity with the building going on. We started the walk back, passing a sign that said 12.4 kilometres to the Marahau car park, reaching there at around 3.45pm so a good 25 km walk for the day.

Will’s Valley Progress

Clearing of Lone Fern Corner was completed and now this area is all planted except for a swampy bit which I hope to plant in ferns and some cabbage trees. Shirl and Karla helped with the clearing, planting and placing the stakes and spray guards. After all the recent rains it is surprising to note all the different species of fungus ‘flowering’ in the bush. From the Mycena – like delicate fluted lampshades, the scarlet Red Tobacco Pouch fungi, many earthstar fungi and surprisingly many Tutai Kehua fungi, which translated means ghost poo. This looks like a white hollow framed or basket fungus of which the frame sometimes comes loose and rolls away from where it ‘sprouted’. Other species are Orange Pore fungi, Trametes species orange, whitish and browns with their variegated lines , some coral and light orange types in clusters. There seemed to be at least a couple of different puffball types to.

April rainfall at our place was was 297mm  (With the April monthly average being 121mm)

Rainfall for May was 120mm with our monthly average for May being 130mm and last year’s May was only 29mm.  June rainfall was 168mm (average 177mm) last year it was 229mm.


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