I’ve just spent a few days with some visitors from Sweden, a “Group Study Exchange” team sponsored by Rotary International. You can read about them in their blog here. For me was a great opportunity to brush up my Swedish language skills.
Two of the team were keen photographers so we left a few hours earlier than the rest of the team for the drive from Nelson to Murchison. We drove in a giant “S”, via Tapawera and St Arnauds. The weather had cleared up somewhat after heavy rain the day before, so the trip yielded some interesting images.
The Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) or Hoiho is amongst the world’s rarest penguins, a highly endangered spoecies with only a few thousand individuals left. Even so, there are some good opportunities for seeing these interesting birds in the southern parts of New Zealand, for example at Nugget Point in the Catlins or on the Otago Peninsula.
A couple of years ago we took a tour which seemed to be well run, not disturb the birds much at all, and yet get us quite close to them. The result was some stunning images, despite the low light:
On Wednesday I had to drive over from Nelson to Pelorus Bridge, to pick up some Swedish visitors at noon. I decided that there was a chance of some good images, so travelled over early, arriving at dawn! Conditions were not what I was expecting: a thick mist shrouded everything so there was no early light to work with. I did get some rather atmospheric shots, though. The Pelorus River is an “incised river”, having carved its way down through the rocks (and a favourite amongst trout fishermen).
This week there was a small item on page 3 of our local newspaper announcing that the four major players in New Zealand’s mussel industry have joined forces to create a new company, Spatco. The four companies involved are Wakatu Incorporation, Sealord (both Nelson-based), Sanford and Pacifica Seafoods. Spatco aims to take baby mussels grown in the laboratory (“spat”) and grow them up to the size where they can survive on their own in the marine environment. The objectives are two-fold: to ensure a consistent, reliable supply of mussel juveniles and to take advantage of the ambitious selective breeding programme which has been going on at Cawthron Institute for the past five or six years.
Westhaven Retreat, where we were staying, is a working farm. Amongst the farm animals were some remarkably handsome llamas. Well, what do you think? This first guy behaved as if he were the alpha male (hence his rather self-satisfied smile):
There was quite a strong wind which for once enhanced the images, emphasising just how woolly these creatures are (incredible eyelashes too).