The most iconic tree on Lord Howe Island isn’t a native at all, but an introduced species – the Norfolk Island Pine. Some sailors thought it would be good wood for ship building – and found out too late that it wasn’t.
There are lots of trees on the island, and lots of birds that make their home there. Some birds are frequent visitors, like the sooty tern.
Others are native flightless birds like the buff-banded rail.
This beautiful green dove.
And the most beloved bird on the island, the Woodhen.
With no native land-based predators, the flightless birds just took over the island – until the rats came. Just 10 years ago, the woodhen was endangered as the island was over-run by rats. The island embarked on an ambitious rat-eradication program, which was successful, and now the birds are flourishing. We even saw a few chicks running around.
Being in the middle of Tassie, you might wonder if there were any animals about. There were, though many of them were elusive. The most accessible were actually the marsupials. We have seen pademelons before way back in Stanley.
But it was my first glimpse of the following two animals. As I said in my previous post, the cooler Tasmanian weather produces some interesting adaptations to otherwise run-of-the-mill ‘mainland’ species. Look at these two and see how they differ from their northern cousins.
And the big lake is of course stocked with trout, for all those keen anglers.
Hello there! Hope you had a lovely Christmas and start of the New Year. Covid has returned to Sydney. For those of you who managed to get away, congratulations. For those who didn’t, I’m continuing to post from my travel archives this year.
I’m continuing to post on our 2019 trip to Tasmania. I see that some of you have managed to get to the Apple Isle lately. Enjoy!
Anyway, back to the town of Stanley. It might have been founded from whaling, but people soon realised that the land was perfect for grazing. This is the house of the chief agent of the Van Diemen’s Land Company, called Highfield.
It’s still surrounded by grazing land to this day. The pastures start from the edge of town.
And these days the cattle they rear in these parts are the best in Australia.
The reason? They have no problem with water around here – look at all that grass. No wonder the cattle thrive.
Once over the dunes, the beach stretched out before us.
We were on the windy west coast, and boy, was it windy. And everything was on a vast scale.
Our destination turned out to be these boulders of beach rock, as they contained fossils – shells that are remnants of the sea floor that existed during the Miocene period, approximately 10 million years ago.
We also had a little surprise when we searched for fossils.
Luckily, he was having a long nap and hardly stirred, else we would have been in trouble.
From Nelson, we drove further into the north-west of the island. Our destination, the mystical Golden Bay. But to get there, we had to traverse the notorious Takaka Hill, which separates Golden Bay from the rest of New Zealand (for those who think that NZ isn’t isolated enough from the rest of the world).
The pass is around 791m high, but seems higher since we can see down to sea level a lot of the time. There’s Nelson in the mist!
At the top of the hill is Hawkes Lookout. Time to stretch and photograph the views.
We also met some of the local birdlife. The weka is a common flightless bird in these parts. They’re not shy but not mischievous either.
Hubby, ever the geologist, was interested in the rocks protruding from the hillside. They’re limestone. These hills are the crunch point between the two tectonic plates that Australia and New Zealand are on.
Being a bit of a Lord of the Rings fan back in the day, I thought these types of rocks look familiar. A bit of research uncovered that they did film in the general area, although much higher up (with the aid of helicopters). And probably in winter (we visited in early summer).
The next morning we took one last look at our vineyard retreat in Renwick.
We then drove up the Wairau Valley, over 90km – and incredibly, most of that way was past vineyards. No wonder the Marlborough region produces so much wine. At the end of the drive were the Nelson Lakes at the foot of the mountains.
We visited Lake Rotoiti, although there are two of them. These mountains form the start of the Southern Alps, which run 500km down the spine of the South Island.
Strange to see sea-birds here, but the lake is only 70km or so from the sea.
After lunch, we drove around to Point Kean, to the south side of town. The weather was perfect for early December (i.e. Early summer).
Around the point, we passed a remnant of an old homestead. I’m guessing the sea level has risen quite a bit since it was first built.
And it we didn’t have to go far to see our first seal. These are all New Zealand fur seals, and can be found on rocky shores throughout mainland New Zealand, the Chatham Islands, and the sub-Antarctic islands, as well as parts of Australia.
These seals were pretty used to humans, and other animals too, it seems.