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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Leather on trees
20/01/2008, Invercargill

The same gallery has a small garden, as part of Invercargill's magnificent Queen's Park, devoted to the plants of the sub-Antarctic islands. These are remote, hostile environments, but are home to some extraordinary plants. The most important set are termed 'megaherbs', being large, tough and colourful. Indeed they are more colourful than many South Island natives, and the scientists are still puzzling out the evolutionary advantage.
They have extraordinary leaves, thick and tough. On this plant, the emergent leaves are covered in white hair, which abrades quickly, leaving these shiny, strong plates. On another plant, the leaves are corrugated or pleated. Within the folds, the air can be as much as 15 degrees Celsius warmer than the surrounding atmosphere.
We also found a cool farmer's market in Invercargill and stocked up on lamb and venison, as well as paua fritters which made for a very good dinner that night.

Places and people
Henry the Dinosaur

Henry is a tuatara, a living dinosaur. He was born at the end of the 19th century! The Art Museum (which has an important display of these lizards which they breed to support survival programmes) ascribe his long-term grumpiness to a cancer tumour removed recently. A century in captivity might be a pretty good reason.

Places and people
Sheep and more sheep
19/01/2008, On the way west

On the road we met another quintessential NZ sight. Two dogs were working hard alongside a man in a tiny, elderly tractor, to take them home.
Tonight we are in a nice camp site near Invercargill. Tomorrow we are visiting Bluff and then heading north to be nearer Milford for our exciting overnight cruise on Monday. Hopefully we'll get all this loaded (as we're over a week behind) either tonight or tomorrow, as there'll be lots to come in the next few days.

Places and people
The Only Way is Up, Now
19/01/2008, Slope Point

Except for this; it's the southernmost point of mainland New Zealand. South of here, except for islands, there's only Antarctica.
We played the Yazz track 'The Only Way is Up' loudly as we left the car park. Probably not original, but still appropriate.

Places and people
Lighthouse in the South
19/01/2008, Slope Point

Slope Point is a lighthouse headland much like any other, rugged and windy.

Places and people
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

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
Port: Ipswich
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