January 28, 2008
Still an undisclosed secret location (on a beach) in New Zealand, no mater what the latitude and longitude says
Time: 5 am
Latitude: 43_ 31.742’ S
Longitude: 172_ 37.846’ E
Elevation: ~60 m (180’)
Temperature: 20_C (68 _F)
Wind speed: calm
Wind Chill: -
Clouds: very few strato-cumulus
Wind direction: -
Relative Humidity: 70% ?
Barometric Pressure: steady
Animals: gulls, bees, moths, spiders, cats, black swans, dolphins, sparrows, sheep
Breakfast: Tea, Croissant, cold cereal
Lunch: Fish and Chips
Supper: Cheese, crackers, canned fish – standard backpacker’s meal
I am still at my lodgings in New Zealand and using it as a base for exploring. The view from here is still spectacular and warm enough to sleep with the windows open with no additional blanket. At home we also have a bedroom window open at night (even in winter) but here, not only are the windows open but there are no bothersome flying insects. There are a couple of locations here in New Zealand that have biting sand flies (like a New England Black Fly) but none here. The area where I am has a large marine sanctuary so the dolphins, and other marine life, are protected. There are a number of dolphins here that might even be attracted to “play” if they are in the right mood. Dolphins tour boats and swims are very common here in New Zealand along with tours to see yellow-eyed and blue penguins. I did see dolphins but I did not see penguins here in New Zealand or in Antarctica this year. Guess I will have to come back and try again. The trekking around here is super and today I walked through everything from high ridges to beaches to small touristy towns to grasslands filled with grazing sheep. One could easily have fish and chips for lunch in a small town and end up either gazing across the ocean from a top a ridge line or sitting on a deserted beach and watching dolphin cruise by.
From where I am it is only a few mile to the ocean proper and I feel like I am living on the edge of an ancient fjord. The terrain is high and steep and some of the cliff faces drop hundreds of meters (a thousand feet) into the water. The water here is also reported to be a 1000 m (3,000 ‘) deep. The views are spectacular from the high points on the ridge trail, where I hiked to yesterday. I would post a picture of the view from the ridge line but no photo can possibly do justice to sitting on the top of a steep rocky ridge with friends enjoying snacks and looking out over the ocean and the “fjord” to the water that is hundreds of meters (thousand feet) below. There is brilliant sunshine, little wind, and unlimited views until far out into the ocean where the Earth curves away. I also learned that New Zealand has about 50 million sheep and they are everywhere. All the trek routes I have followed are also free range land for sheep. There are a few milk cows and cattle but mostly sheep. The sheep oblige trekkers by keeping the weeds and grass chewed down. There are not many trees here. All of the forests I have seen are managed forests and were planted only in the last 20-40 years ago. Most sit out like carpet swatches laid out over the hills surrounded by grasslands, and sheep. The day was truly spectacular and I think I picked up a bit more sunburn from being out and about with little shade or cover but it was well worth it to see all the things I have seen.