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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Unique co-existence
19/01/2008, Porpoise Bay

Across a narrow isthmus from Curio Bay is Porpoise Bay, closely guarded by these rocks at South Point which make the Bay itself relatively tranquil. This is a unique place: the only site where humans and dolphins (unfed, wild dolphins) live in close proximity.
The Hector's Dolphin, a small species which is critically endangered, has about 20 family groups here. We saw several dolphins swimming very close to people in the surf; there are lots of warnings about keeping away from the dolphins, but (like the penguins at Bushy Bay), no-one has told the dolphins themselves to stay away from humans.

Places and people
Pip ahoy!
19/01/2008, Curio Bay

Pip stood proud on the rocks as the tide came in, flooding the pools beneath her feet.

Places and people
Rock born of wood
19/01/2008, Curio Bay

Instead we stopped at Curio Bay, the site of a petrified forest. Huge logs lie in the sea turned to stone over thousands of years. An extraordinary place, the grain and texture of wood to the eye while the fingers run over rock warmed by the sun or chilled by the sea.

Places and people
A long time back
19/01/2008, Tahakope

At the beach end of the wood is a stand of young totara trees (pronounced toe-trah). This is a site which from 1000 to 1700 AD was used by Maori moa-hunters as a place to seek food from sea, bush and river. It is archaeologically very important, and they have found the site of an oven buried deep in the shell-filled loam.
From here, we had hoped to go on to the Cathedral Caves, but we had missed the tide, so they were closed.

Places and people
Under the trees
19/01/2008, Tahakope

Breakfast caught up with us at Tahakope, where a path, that used to be taken by the old coaches, runs through bush down the side of the river to the beach. This is another large and tranquil stretch of river/lake protected from the fury of the Pacific by a fearsome bar.
The bush is tranquil, its under-storey intimate in the barred shadows cast by the ferns.

Places and people
Birch or beech?
19/01/2008, Purakainui Falls

While we were in Christchurch we had a substantial debate about whether a large tree in the courtyard at the bar beside the Arts Market was or was not a silver birch. Three Kiwis (Pip, Lou and the guy at the next table) argued it was. Despite this show of unity, Sarah maintained that the silver birch is a good British native, she's planted and nurtured several of them, and this tree ain't one!
The argument continues to rumble, but maybe this plaque beneath a silver beech gives a way to satisfy all honour. Now we'll have to go back to Chch to look at the tree again.

Places and people
Epiphytes or not to ephiphyte?
19/01/2008, Purakainui Falls

There's a little walk to the Falls through some lovely bush. We couldn't decide if it was rainforest. It's certainly layered and there's plenty of rain hereabouts. Are these epiphytes? We can't decide; can anyone out there tell us?

Places and people
More icons
19/01/2008, Purakainui Falls

Driving west through the Catlins, our first stop was the Purakainui Falls. These are another iconic NZ picture, featuring on lots of postcards and so on.
We heard a story that there was once a wedding photo which put each generation on a different level. That must have taken some organising!

Places and people
Bush and ferns
18/01/2008, Purakainui Bay

About a kilometre inland from the beach is a substantial area of protected forest, the original beech wood which would have covered this whole area. It is not clear whether this area was never logged or whether this is re-growth.
Logging was intensive, bush being cleared for farming and fortunes made out of it. At its height there were 37 timber mills in the area between Dunedin and Invercargill (a strip about 30km wide by 150km long). The biggest one, just south of Owaka, worked at full strength for 90 years, before the wood was exhausted.
In this lovely remnant, heavily fenced and protected, there are many tree ferns, pushing proudly above the other trees to reach for the sky.

Places and people
Oystercatcher school
18/01/2008, Purakainui Bay

On the beach was a family of variegated oystercatchers, scuttling through the rock pools and teaching their youngster how to fish. Behind them you can see the giant kelp that flourishes all along this coastline, swirling in the surf like a giant's undies in the washing machine.
The oystercatchers share the beach itself with many gulls, both the red-beaked scavengers and the shyer black-backed variety.

Places and people
Iron Age villages in NZ!
18/01/2008, Purakainui Bay

The elaborate lacework is itself eroded down to smoothness. Taken from above, this could be an Iron Age settlement, the very rumour of which had been lost until its straight lines and apparent order are revealed by aerial photography.

Places and people
More rocks
18/01/2008, Purakainui Bay

The last picture, back into the bay, was taken from the rocks along its western side. These are eroded into fantastic shapes, mini-landscapes of caves and grottos. The geology is a mystery, the rocks riddled with veins of brown, white, grey, and the slabs themselves changing from dark grey to shining white.

Places and people

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