Monday, January 17, 2011
We are now well-established in New Zealand, where, apart from a one-week trip to Tasmania, we shall be until the end of March.
On Friday we had our first cycle ride for about 18 months. While I was training for the big walk the cycles were surplus to requirements because, with several hours a day on foot, there didn’t seem to be much energy or time left for the bikes.
At over 30 kms, some of it quite hilly and half of it against a strong wind, the ride was a bit of an eye-opener.
As was this morning’s waterfall walk at Hanmer Springs. This takes about 3 hours, out and back, and rises from 340 metres to 800 metres, on pretty nadgery tracks. Our legs were fair wobbling on the way back. Last year, at about this same time, we did the waterfall walk every day for a week. I suppose that shows how fit we were then.
This is a land with no natural mammals, except for one type of bat. Of course since man, especially European man, came to stay, he has stocked the country with all sorts of domestic, farming, and predatory creatures. Most people associate New Zealand with sheep, but the animal which always catches our eye is the wapiti or American elk, which is farmed in large numbers here. Of course there are plenty of cows, a growing number of llamas and alpacas, but never before this week have we seen American bison. We haven’t even seen them in the US, where Buffalo Bill and his like reduced them from herds of multi-million animals to near extinction.
Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of the bison because they were on the far side of a field, but we did get this snapshot of Dr Who’s Tardis and one of his Dalek arch-enemies, in Oxford.
Of course the Daleks and Buffalo Bill have battle-cry in common – “Exterminate!”