Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Finally, an excursion

We finally, we got to do an excursion Thursday, April 6, in Wellington, the capital city, also called the “Culture Capital of New Zealand.”  In the rain, of course. 

It wasn’t raining too much when we boarded the bus to take us to Zealandia.  By the time we got there, it started to pour.  We went on our walking tour anyway. 

Up the steps we went.
We saw a few birds.  A very cool place.  It’s like a Jurassic Park setting, and that’s what they call it, the Jurassic Park of New Zealand.  They’re working to return this piece of land to the way it was hundreds of years ago … without dogs, cats, rats, stoats, possums, the ones that wreak havoc on bird life.  There were no mammals here long ago, just birds and marine life.  It’s a giant and noble undertaking. 

The giant weta.  We did see one of the 3-inch ones that lives inside the tree.  Ugly in real life.

There's a lake and a dam, and loads of hiking trails here that would be nice to walk, if it were sunny.
The moa was a flightless bird that was hunted to extinction.  It looks kind of like an emu except with lots of feathers.
They’ve put up special fencing, with wire underneath it so rodents can’t dig under it, and a tubular piece over the top so they can’t crawl over it, and they patrol it often looking for breaks or deterioration. 

The fence looked pretty good from where we stood.
As back up there are traps set around to catch rodents.  The object is to bring back birds that have been on the edge of extinction.  It’s a beautiful place, and would have really been lovely in the sunlight.  As it is, it’s lush, with the sounds of birds, even if they can’t always be seen. 
The takahe is a large, flightless bird that is usually near wetlands.  It was once thought to be extinct, and is considered critically endangered.  They are similar to another bird we'd seen, but have a larger beak.  Zealandia is also the home of the largest population of little spotted kiwis on mainland New Zealand.
I didn’t take a photo but there is also a pateke, a brown teal duck.  It’s a rare native duck half the size of a mallard with a beautiful mosaic of brown feathers on its back.  It doesn’t quack like the ducks I’m used to hearing.  It growls. 

From there we went on to Otari, Wilton’s Bush Trust, a collection of native plants.  It’s a rather a cool place, particularly if you’re into plants.  The rain lightened up some.  I had my rain poncho so just the bottoms of my pants, my shoes and socks were wet today.

They did have some rain coats. 

Otari is the only public botanic garden dedicated solely to New Zealand plants.
It is a beautiful place and one that would also have been fun to explore more 
Otari propagates and grows rare native plants to be planted back into the wild.  In fact, only one tree of a certain variety survived the introduction of goats.
These berries, and one other type I saw, are a beautiful bluish-purple hue. 
Back to the ship and a bite to eat.  Tonight there was a show we went to see, two of the four Kinsmen (Pearson & Harvey), I believe local type of talent.  Funny, musical.  It was great and I was laughing so hard I cried.  However, the Captain came on and told us the seas would be very rough, and to be careful and make sure everything in our cabins was stowed.  He came on again.  This time to tell us the water was so rough our pilot couldn’t get off the ship and on to the pilot boat.  He would be continuing on with us.  He also said that the seas could get violent, his words, not mine.

The water got very rough, with seas of 12-18 feet.  We were sailing through Cook Strait, where it appears all the water from around the islands comes together and make it into a huge boiling pot.  I’m thinking this is some of the roughest we’ve been in … on all our cruises.  The ship is creaking and groaning, rolling from side to side, and our speed has slowed to 14.2 knots.  No hammer down tonight.

The report from the bridge indicated that the wind was 45 knots, strong gale, force 9.  Stef and I went out on the balcony to look.  The water is crashing over the bow as we make our way through … with the high-flying mist dancing over the top of the waves.  It’s beautiful, but also scary.  It makes me want to eat chocolate.  It’s a good thing I’ve been rat holing the chocolates the room steward brings every evening.  But I have faith in our captain. 

As Friday, April 7, dawned, we continued on, another ship drive by.  When we have to use tenders in a port, if there’s big water, it doesn’t happen.  So we didn’t get into Akaroa, and we still have the ship pilot from Wellington with us.  I hope he didn’t have some special engagement yesterday evening or today, like maybe his wedding or vacation plans.  We were to go see little penguins here …  Three out of five excursions so far missed.  But we occupied our time with another at-sea day.  And we really do enjoy afternoon tea in one of the dining rooms.  Little sandwiches, scones, other fancy desserts.  Yum!! 

I’m doing a lot of reading on this cruise.  I also went to the gym, listened to a piano player in the piazza, and enjoyed some appetizers in the Skywalker Lounge, which is a part of being a Platinum passenger.  We sat there enjoying our water with lime and shrimp, cheeses and fresh fruit and vegetables.  The view is magnificent from the 18th deck at the back of the ship, and quite relaxing. 

No comments:

Post a Comment