Thursday, May 26, 2011


Two days ago we began in Rotorua and ended the day in Taupo... en route we were treated to a variety of lovely and incredible living things...
Iceland Poppies, Government Garden in Rotorua

A pukeko bird in Government Gardens, Rotorua
These birds are one of the things you see in a lot of cute tourist art.  This is the pukeko, a bird that came into New Zealand (flew over) from Australia over the last 1000 years.  They are pretty tame around people and nest in farmland and other places.

Redwoods and tree ferns, Rotorua
Barry next to a tree fern--they grow really tall

There is a forest of California Redwoods outside Rotorua, which we visited and hiked through.  Not only the redwoods but also the tree ferns are here--and walking through them is spectacular. The redwoods were planted as part of an early experiment to find the timber that would best serve the timber industry in New Zealand.  They didn't end up choosing to plant millions of redwoods--but instead they did develop this lovely forest tract.

Waimangu Thermal Valley

Next is a view taken in a volcanic valley outside Rotorua, called Waimangu.  This is the world's youngest geothermal site, having been created in a volcanic eruption in 1886.  We walked 4 km down the valley, stopping at various sites along the way.  Barry wrote about this in his latest blog piece and included a pic of Inferno Crater, which was lovely aqua blue from dissolved silica in the heated water, refracting the light and giving this fabulous blue.  It was reminiscent of the color of water that comes out of glacial melting, probably for the same reason--dissolved silicates.

Female wallaby in the Waimangu Valley.  About 3 feet tall.
Finally at the end of the walk we were treated to the site of a real pest here, the wallaby.  Of course we thought it was marvelous to see her, but the locals hate them, due to the fact that they chew up forest and farm vegetation.  They so hate the possums here as well (both wallabies and possums are non-native species) that they make sport of killing them and their fur is woven together with merino wool and silk to make wonderfully thick and warm winter hats, gloves, and scarves.  They call it possum wool.  Apparently there is a cafe somewhere here that specializes in possum pies, putting a little decoration of a possum face on top of the pies.  They say that every tourist should have a possum pie--it will keep their numbers down!  Not sure I will eat any of these ...

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