Friday, May 28, 2010

Updates and... Invercargill Represents (January 28--February 5, 2010)

I've been taking an impromptu break from posting, mostly because I was beginning to lose track of which of my (thousands of) photos had been posted already, and which I still wanted to use. I'm using Picasa to manage them, and during the past week or so I devised a system for keeping track and keeping them organised; I then set about the grunt-work of actually putting them all in order, which took until today.

I've decided that as well as keeping the pictures more organised behind the scenes, I'm also going to put up fewer posts (perhaps two or three per week) with more commentary, and more groups of images as opposed to single pictures. I think this will make things more interesting both for me as 'author', and for anyone else who happens to be checking this blog.

For now, here are some images and links to amuse and enlighten. First, one taken at Kaikoura as I was passing through on the bus, on my way to Picton: a classy vehicle parked near the beach and across the road from the cafe.

There's just something about Tim Shadbolt (could it be that he never goes away? He's been well-known in NZ since I was a child). And something else about Invercargill, which inspires such strong sentiments among many New Zealanders--one expat I ran into in Montreal called it "the asshole of New Zealand". Nonetheless, Invercargill does have something to offer.* This very amusing documentary (password: Tuatara), called "Love in Cold Blood", is about Henry and Mildred, two Tuatara who mate for the first time together when Henry is 111 and Mildred is 80 (there are plenty of old-age jokes made here). The video is only about 25 minutes long, easy to watch at one sitting.

Tuatara (Māori for "spiny back") are fascinating creatures, reptiles native to New Zealand and often called "living dinosaurs" due to the obscurity of their branch in the Linnaean tree--they have an entire section of the reptile family to themselves--and the fact that they seem to have changed little in the past 225 million years or so (like much of New Zealand's flora and fauna, due to its 60-million-year-long period of isolation from other land masses). And yes, there's also the whole "third eye" thing.

These days, Tuatara are protected and carefully bred in sanctuaries, and released on offshore islands and other enclosed areas that have been cleared of predators.

Below, I've added a few pictures including an actual "Tuatara car" below (well, a car with a very large Tuatara perched on it), spotted outside the Kiwi Birdlife Park in Queenstown on January 28:

After a look at this car, a trip to the Birdlife Park seemed like a good idea. And it was--I got to meet this wee fellow, up close and personal:

When I reached Invercargill I sought out Henry, ageing giant of Tuatara, at the Southland Museum; but unfortunately for me he was feeling uncooperative (I suppose his little 'operation' did not make for a complete personality overhaul after all--he looked crabby, hiding under his rotting log).

Lastly, the backpackers shown in the video linked above is also the one I stayed at in Invercargill--they really do have a theme going:

*Note: I come from Palmerston North, which is also widely disparaged in New Zealand--and we don't even have Tuatara to make up for it.

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