On a Whim Wm's world travels

24 Apr 2005

the last supper

Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 8:24 am

Last night our sweet flatmates made us a traditional Kiwi dinner with all the trimmings: roast lamb, roasted vegetables, and for dessert our second Pavlova. Yummy. I ate way too much!

One of the vegetables we had was called silverbeet. I’m not sure, but I think it is what we call swiss chard. There was also roasted pumpkin, kumara (which is a kind of sweet potato), onions, and (my favorite) parsnips.

22 Apr 2005

Blog Spam

Filed under: General — wm @ 1:28 pm

Arrrrgh! I just spent several hours deleting spam. Not your typical annoying email spam, but spam comments put into this weblog! I had to go through the entire blog and carefully weed them out, leaving the real comments. I changed the options on the blog to try to make it more difficult, but if the problem persists I will probably turn off the ability to leave comments while we are traveling, and then fix the problem when we get home. In addition to the spam comment, each comment triggered an email to me, so I had over 100 emails telling me about all the nonsense messages with embedded links to buy various drugs. Sigh.

I’m reconsidering my opposition to the death penalty, but only for convicted spammers.

The next day it happened again, but I had turned on moderation so the spam comments did not show up in the blog, and all I had to do was deny the more than 100 comments. Unlike the first day when they were all about cheap drugs, the next day they were all about online poker. Weird.

So you can still make comments on this blog, but they won’t appear until I get around to approving them manually (like the comment on this entry, which I just approved).

19 Apr 2005

Cat eyes

Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 11:15 pm

We’ve gone a number of times to a beach about 15 minutes away from where we live, and usually spend most of our time there picking up “cat eyes”. At least that’s what the locals call them. We’ve found them at other beaches around NZ as well. They seem to be shells that have been worn down by wave action, until just an image of the spiral shell is left. I don’t know what kind of shell they start out as, or why they stop wearing down when they get to this stage. But I do know that they are beautiful!

Here’s an image that Cindy took of some of the cat eyes we have collected. We’ve found hundreds of them!

17 Apr 2005

One Week!

Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 11:30 pm

Our first stay in New Zealand is coming to an end in one week! We are taking off for Australia, spending a few weeks there, then heading back to the good old (?) USA. Will be back in Portland at the end of May, to spend the summer. Current plan is to come back to NZ sometime in September.

I’m really glad we took off last week and spent some time traveling around the north island. It reminded me of why I love it here. There are so many interesting things, friendly people, beautiful sights. It is so easy to travel around here, especially for backpackers. And I continue to be impressed at the food. We had a really yummy Korean meal in Taupo, and discovered a restaurant called the Fat Dog in Rotorua that is known for their huge portions, but I was also surprised at how delicious it was. We ate there twice!

15 Apr 2005

Rotorua and Taupo

Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 9:44 pm

Had a quick trip up to the central plateau of the North Island. I think it was the longest we have been without seeing the ocean, but there are huge lakes, including Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand. It is in the caldera of an enormous collapsed volcano. When it erupted 25,000 years ago, it covered the entire north island of New Zealand under 100 meters of ash and lava.

First stop was Tongariro National Park, which includes 3 active volcanoes, two of which were used in The Lord of the Rings. Mt Ngauruhoe was Mt Doom. Mt Ruapehu last erupted in 1995 and 1996, although the major problem was that it ruined the ski season. We stayed in the Grand Chateau, one of the more famous hotels in New Zealand, which is right between two of the volcanoes. Unfortunately, this time of year you can’t actually see the volcanoes, because of all the clouds (it is autumn here). So we went onto Taupo. The entire area around Taupo, and on up to Rotorua, is covered in hot springs, geysers, fumaroles, and other volcanic features.

Rotorua is also know as a center for Maori culture. We went to two different traditional dances, a traditional Maori meal, called a Hangi, which is cooked in the ground with hot rocks.

I’ve uploaded lots of photos, at http://www.leler.com/NZ-Apr/

7 Apr 2005


Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 7:39 am

It is autumn here (they don’t seem to use the word “fall” to describe a season) and the days are getting shorter, but it is still nice weather for hiking (which they call “tramping”). So we went out for a quick tramp in the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. I’ve blogged about this place extensively, they have a 500 year plan for putting it back to the way it was before humans arrived, including a big fence around it to keep introduced species out. We did a longer hike in it than we have done before. The sanctuary used to be the water supply for Wellington, before they discovered that a major faultline went right through it. From the entrance (where you check your bags to make sure you aren’t bringing in any mice or other pests) it is a 20 minute walk up to the old dam. We had never gone beyond that before, but we took off, walking the trail along the faultline, which is now a lovely streambed.

The sanctuary is full of birds, and they are not shy in the least. We got a good long, close look at a Tui bird, a large black bird with white tufts on its throat. The Tui is a great mimic, making the most amazing noises. Everything from whistles to grunts, squacks, and beeps. We watched for about 5 minutes while one, just a few feet above our heads, did a singing performance.

We then turned uphill, walking all the way up to the fence that surrounds the sanctuary. Just outside the fence is a wind turbine, which supplies some of the power for Wellington. There is only one here, but a few weeks ago we drove through an area that has hundreds of wind turbines. This area of NZ is smack dab in the middle of the “Roaring 40’s” — a latitude where there are strong winds circling the globe. There are no major land masses in the seas just north of Antartica, so there is nothing to slow them down. As I type this, the wind is howling — they don’t call it “Windy Wellington” for nothing.

While we were tramping up the hill through a forest, a small gray robin was following us. Everytime we would pause along the trail, he would be just a few feet away from us, just as curious about us as we were about him. Robins here are much different than those in the US, slightly smaller and very cute. We also saw a few Fantails, which are the most amazing fliers, doing acrobatics in midair, and flying right through dense patches of tree branches, narrowly missing each branch as if it were the most fun thing to do imaginable.

The other amazing thing we saw during this hike were hundreds of mushrooms. Huge red mushrooms of all kinds of sizes.

To see more photos from the hike, or larger versions of the above photos, click here.

5 Apr 2005


Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 11:05 pm

I’ve recently reorganized the New Zealand photos, and put up a bunch of new photos from our adventures around Wellington. You can always get to the photos by clicking on the “nz photos” link on the right side of this page, or you can go directly there:


2 Apr 2005

Chinese Food!

Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 8:15 pm

I seem to be on a food kick lately. Probably because I’ve been working too hard. But tonight we ate at a Northern Chinese restaurant in Wellington. It was a rather modest place — not quite a hole in the wall, but nothing fancy either. We found it in a local guide book, which said it was the best Chinese food in Wellington. We agreed. In fact, it was one of the best Chinese meals we’ve had outside of China. They also had messages handwritten (taped to the window, in the menu, etc.) by people who eat there — including the Chinese ambassador to NZ, Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings), and lots of other famous people.

When we were in China a year ago, I kept asking in restaurants in various cities if they could make moo-shu pork. Never did find it, and we finally decided that like chop suey and other dishes, it wasn’t really chinese, it was invented in the US. So I was surprised that this Chinese restaurant in NZ had “moo-shi delight,” which was fairly similar to moo-shu. Well, except for it was made with chicken and shrimp instead of pork (at my request they left out the shrimp, since I’m allergic). And the pancakes were the size of peking duck pancakes (about 3 inches or so in diameter), not the tortilla sized pancakes that normally come with moo-shu pork. But it was served with hoisin sauce (like moo-shu pork). It was totally delicious.

I continue to be very impressed with the food in NZ.

30 Mar 2005


Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 5:20 pm

Last week, our flatmate (housemate) Robin made for us what seems to be the national dessert of New Zealand — a Pavlova. As you can see from the photo below, it looks something like a large merengue, but it is actually quite thick and creamy inside, more like a fluffy cheesecake. After you bake it and it cools, you top it with whipped cream and fruit. We used raspberries and blueberries, but people often use kiwifruit (naturally). Very very yummy. This was the first time we tried one, so we don’t know how it compares to those served in restaurants. But for now, we can truthfully say that Robin made the best pavlova we have ever tasted! Hopefully Cindy can learn to make them.


Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 11:21 am

A few weeks ago I did a big post about missing Trader Joes. Well, I knew that would come back to haunt me. Here’s the story…

One of the things I love about TJs is the dried fruit, especially the weirder kinds. One thing they had a few years ago was called “Razzcherries” — which were dried cherries soaked in raspberry flavor. Interesting taste, but they were a little too sweet, so I didn’t buy them very often. Eventually, TJs stopped carrying them. But I still like the fact that TJs would carry something weird like that. Where else would you find something called razzcherries?

How about New Zealand?

Fast forward to last weekend. We are visiting Napier (see Cindy’s post, below) and go into a small Italian deli and store. They have a large selection of dried fruits and lo and behold, they have razzcherries! So I buy a bag of them, but didn’t try them until yesterday (after we are back home). The surprise is that these razzcherries are REALLY good. Way better than the ones that they had in Trader Joes! They have a very strong, tart raspberry flavor. Very intense. And not too sweet.

So here I was, complaining about not being able to get stuff like that over here, and I can actually get something even better. It just goes to show that it takes a while to get used to a new place. When we come back to Portland, I’m sure I’ll be complaining about things I miss from NZ. Sigh.

The other funny thing is that we bought those razzcherries in Napier, which is about a 4 hour drive from here. I was wondering how I could ever find a closer place to buy them, when I realized that I could just call up the store in Napier and they would likely tell me. Most stores in the US will not tell you where they get something — they want you to buy it from them. But people are very nice here, even people in stores. I’ve frequently had people in stores tell me other places I should look for something when they didn’t have exactly what I was looking for (I’ve mentioned a couple of those cases in this blog). So when we run out of this bag, I’ll call the deli in Napier and see if they will tell me where they get them so I can find some place to buy them closer to where we live.

Added note: I did find a place here in Wellington that carries razz-cherries, the same ones we found in Napier. They were in a grocery store here, in the bulk foods section.

25 Mar 2005

On the other hand…

Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 11:50 pm

So, I’ve been decidedly pro-NZ the last few postings, but there definitely are things that bother us here. Today is Good Friday, and everything is closed. You can’t even go to the grocery store (although a few convenience stores are open). It will be worse on Easter, this Sunday. And even on days when things are open, they all close around 5pm. So if you work until 5pm, when do you go shopping? Many stores stay open late on Thursday night, so I guess that is your only chance. Either that or the weekend.

Not everything closes at 5pm. Grocery stores stay open later than that, some as late as 11pm. And the local video rental store is open until midnight. There is also a chain called The Warehouse, which stays open until 8pm every night, but neither Cindy nor I like shopping there (they are a bargain warehouse with cheap crap, and their prices aren’t even all that good).

So yes, this is not a country of shoppers. And that is the challenge for us — as Americans is shopping so important that we forget about things like health care, the environment, or education? Is having a choice of hundreds of things to buy more important than having a real choice in political candidates? Is being able to go shopping in the evening more important than spending time with your family and friends?

I try to be philosophical, but it still pisses me off when the stores close at 5pm and I’m not done shopping yet.

23 Mar 2005


Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 1:44 pm

The continuing saga of drugs in NZ. Yesterday I asked our housemates (called flatmates here) for the name of their doctor. They both use a doctor whose office is about 3 blocks from where we live — very convenient! So I called the doctor’s office yesterday afternoon and got an appointment for the first thing this morning. Before I left the house this morning, I worry that they will probably want me to fill out all kinds of paperwork, so I get my address book, contact information for my doctor in the US, etc.

When I walk into the office, they ask me if I want to be treated as a “casual patient”. I say sure, and the next thing I know I’m in talking to the doctor. No paperwork. None. Nada. They already have my name from when I made the appointment over the phone, and that’s all they need. Wow.

So the next thing I worry about is that they will want to repeat all my lab tests and everything before they write me a prescription, but as they say here — “not a problem”! The doctor does check my blood pressure, and listens to my heart and lungs, but she is fine writing the prescription for me. I do have the prescription from my doctor in the US, after all. But it is hard for me to imagine a doctor in the US writing a prescription just like that — after all they could get sued if they don’t check me out completely themselves!

The main thing we have to do is figure out all the equivalent drugs. Drugs have different names in different countries, or slightly different drugs that do the same thing. So for all 3 of my drugs, we find equivalents. Two of them just weren’t available here, and the third (Lipitor, which I talked about in the last post) is actually available, but they don’t like to use it because there are equivalents that are cheaper and do just as well. I figure I’ll try out the equivalent. Just to be safe, I’ve sent an email back to my doctor in the US with the names of the new drugs I’ll be taking.

Twenty minutes later, I’m done. I pay for the visit using my debit card (called EFTPOS here). Total bill? NZ$52. And remember, I’m paying for it myself since I don’t have insurance here. I do have health insurance in the US, but to be honest all the paperwork I know I will have to go through just for US$38 probably won’t be worth it. When I lived in Canada, I had an injury and tried to get my insurance company back in the US to pay for it, and after days of phone calls I gave up. (I’m sure all of you reading this in the US have much nicer health insurance companies that never give you any hassles at all, right?)

Bottom line? The whole experience was easy, painless, fast. No defensive medicine. No reams of paperwork for the doctor, insurance company, etc. No long waits, either for an appointment or in the doctor’s office. I spent most of the time actually talking to the doctor. The practice of medicine is alive and well. Nice. The biggest problem was that I kept expecting there to be a problem. I was pleasantly surprised.

Those people in the US who are opposed to single payer health insurance should check out the situation here in NZ. I’ve talked to other people here in NZ, and they all seem to feel much better about health care than people I know in the US do. I’ve also heard that Australia has a similar system, and it works well. Why is the US the only major industrialized country without universal health coverage?

22 Mar 2005


Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 12:05 pm

Ahem, I’m talking about prescription drugs. I have been alarmed at the high, and rapidly escalating cost of prescription drugs in the US. For example, my mother has diabetes and alzheimers, and her prescription drugs are her biggest expense (more than food or housing). If I were not helping her out, she would be one of those people who would have to choose between buying her medicines or paying the rent. And as a diabetic, not taking her medicines would mean death. What do people on a fixed income do? I watch in disbelief at all the fuss and millions of dollars being spent on Terri Schiavo, when every day people are dying because they cannot afford common medicines.

But the high cost of drugs in the US was illustrated to me graphically yesterday. One of the drugs I take is Lipitor to lower my cholesterol. When I came over to New Zealand I brought a three month supply, but that is starting to run low. I am still paying my health insurance in the US, so I could get my drugs there and have them sent to me in NZ, but I decided to see first what they would cost here. So yesterday I went to the mall and walked into the first pharmacy I found (called a “chemist” here). Naturally, I can’t actually get the drugs yet, since I don’t have a prescription from a NZ doctor, but the pharmacist was very helpful anyway (people here are like that). She looked up Lipitor and said that the equivalent drug here would be around $10 or so per month. Remember, this is NZ dollars, so even with the weak US dollar that is around US$7.20. A couple of years ago it would have been around US$5.

Now, I didn’t actually know how much Lipitor costs in the US because I have health insurance that covers drugs, but I have a $30 co-pay (on top of the $400/month I’m paying for the health insurance). But this pharmacist had just told me that for less than the cost of my monthly co-pay in the US, I could pay full price and get Lipitor for $10 in NZ. Then the pharmacist added helpfully that the price would be different at different pharmacies and I might be able to find them cheaper somewhere else.

So this morning I decide to look up the prices of these drugs in the US, to find out their retail price. I can’t just walk into a US pharmacy, so I look online in drugstore.com, which offers discount prices on prescription drugs. It isn’t a fair comparison, since I’m putting a discount mail order business in the US — the land of free markets and competition (which we all know results in far lower prices) — against a boutique pharmacy in a mall in liberal anti-competitive NZ. But what the heck. For Lipitor, their (discount) price is $95 for a one month supply. Which seems a bit higher than the NZ$10 I was quoted in the boutique pharmacy. Thirteen times higher.

Some of you might be thinking, hey, doesn’t NZ have socialized medicine? Aren’t their drugs prices subsidized? The answer to both questions is no. NZ does have single payer health insurance, which means that the government supplies basic health insurance to all their citizens. But you still pick your own doctors, and buy your drugs wherever you want. Since I am just a visitor I don’t qualify for their national health insurance, so I would be paying full price.

Note that Clinton tried to get single payer health insurance passed in the US a few years ago, but congress turned it down after a media blitz paid for by the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies. Maybe that’s why they need to charge such high prices for drugs, health insurance, and co-pays. National TV time is expensive, not to mention the major donations to politicians they need to make to keep being protected from that nasty competition from other countries.

So, now I’m thinking I should get my drugs over here. Even though my US health insurance probably won’t pay for me to go to the doctor here and get a prescription, it will probably be cheaper to do that than pay the co-pays for my 3 drugs in the US, and have them shipped over here. Plus I get an extra visit to the doctor out of it. Isn’t competition wonderful?

One last comment. I realize that some people might claim that US pharmaceutical companies need that extra money in order to do research to find new drugs. Well, here’s an article about a new anti-HIV drug being developed that seems to show that drug research is alive and doing well here in NZ.

21 Mar 2005


Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 9:24 am

One thing we find amazing about the beaches in New Zealand is that they are covered with sea shells. In the US, you hardly ever see many sea shells on the beaches, and when they do show up everyone picks them up and takes them home. It is hard to break that need to take the shells home — the windowsill in our bedroom is covered with shells we have picked up on beaches all over NZ.

Here are some photos from a beach right here in Wellington — just a few minutes drive from downtown. The large shells are Paua, which we call abalone in the US. They are beautiful (this is where “mother of pearl” comes from) and yet they are everywhere.


20 Mar 2005


Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 8:07 pm

We went to Rivendell today. Or rather, the park (Kaitoke) that was used as the setting for filming Rivendell in “The Lord of the Rings”. Kaitoke is a beautiful park situated on the upper Hutt River, with loads of huge old trees covered in epiphytes and vines, a swing bridge, and many walking trails. The actual site where the filming was done is marked with signs, giving quotes from the movie.

To be honest, we didn’t even know we were going to Rivendell today, we were just going to that park. But when we got there, we saw signs written in an elvish font, and following those signs we found small tours (mostly of Japanese tourists) being led around that area. The tour leader had still images from the movie, and was indicating a tree in the still, and then pointing to the actual tree right there in front of you.

You can certainly see why this place was picked to be the site for Rivendell. Even without the movie connection, it is a magical place. The rivers have cut deep canyons and the vegetation is dense and moody. Beautiful.


19 Mar 2005

Porirua Farmer’s Market

Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 2:44 pm

Last Sunday we went to the farmer’s market in Wellington (I talked about it in the blog), and today (Saturday morning) we went to the farmer’s market in Porirua (the town next to ours out here in the ‘burbs). The two markets are as different as night and day. This one not only had all the vegetables and fruit of the Wellington market, but it also had tons of other stuff. Lots of food stalls, people selling music, clothing, and everything else imaginable.

Porirua has a large population of Maori and South Pacific Islanders, so there were all kinds of foods we weren’t familar with. For example, one booth advertised “banana pancakes, 5 for $1” (and that’s a NZ dollar, so less than 75 cents). We got them but they were nothing like any pancakes we knew. They were spherical balls of banana dough about the size of a small fist that were deep fried. They tasted more like doughnuts than pancakes, but were yummy (if a bit greasy). There was also Indian food (roti containing chicken, beef, or a fried egg), Chinese (steamed BBQ pork buns), and kebabs (meat on a stick).

There were buskers everywhere. Especially popular were little kids playing classical music on the violin. There was even a Maori guy on organ with a drum machine, singing EZ listening hits (“I just called, to say, I love you”).

Like last week, we got a ton (or should we say tonne?) of vegetables and fruit, all for very low prices (about half of what you’d expect to pay in a grocery store). What was especially amazing this week were the size of the vegetables. They had daikon raddish that were the size of small children, cucumbers the size of your arm, and cabbages that were not to be triffled with! There were also lots of vegetables that we had never seen before.

Oh, and this market is in the parking lot of the local mall, so everything started closing down before 9am. We don’t know what time it starts in the morning. We heard a rumor that someone went there at 3am and it was already going. Wow.

18 Mar 2005

Daylight Savings Time

Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 7:01 pm

This Sunday morning, New Zealand switches from Daylight Savings Time back to regular New Zealand Standard Time. Remember, it is fall here and the days are getting shorter. This means that instead of being 3 hours behind Portland (3 hours earlier) we will be 4 hours behind (“fall back!”).

Meanwhile, back in Portland it is spring time and in a few weeks they will be going onto daylight savings time. At that time we will be 5 hours behind Portland for the duration of their summer.

And just to complicate things, remember that right now we are not 3 hours behind Portland, we are really 21 hours ahead. It is just easier to think of it as 3 hours behind and one day ahead. Got it? As I type this it is 7pm on a Friday evening here in Wellington, which means it is 10pm (3 hours later) on Thursday (one day earlier) in Portland.

Which means that if you are reading this in Portland, the first 3 words of this blog entry should have been “This Saturday morning”.


16 Mar 2005

Free at last!

Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 11:48 am

Interesting article about an American who has renounced his US citizenship:


As the comment on this blog entry suggests, this guy might not be a shining example to use of someone escaping the US, but it is still an interesting read.

13 Mar 2005

Farmer’s Market

Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 12:51 pm

This morning (Sunday) we went to the Wellington farmer’s market. It was great. Large and bustling, with tons of fruit and vegetables and amazingly cheap prices. Farmer’s markets in the Portland area tend to be more yuppy events, with breads, cheeses, and organic produce at high prices. Typically in Portland you pay more for produce at the farmer’s market than you would in a grocery store — you’re paying extra for the quality. But the produce market here was more a working market, with huge boxes full of produce. Things like parsnips for the equivalent of 50 cents a pound. Really good avocados for around 70 cents each. And lots of oriental vegetables. Bok choy, huge napa cabbages, winter melon, all kinds of squash.

There was one stand selling dim sum on a stick. For NZ$2 (less than US$1.50) you got four pot stickers on a stick, or four shu mai. And they were yummy.

Our housemate says that there is a farmer’s market in Poriura (close to where we live) on Saturday morning. We’ll have to check that out next week.

8 Mar 2005

Karori Wildlife Sanctuary

Filed under: General,New Zealand — wm @ 2:42 pm

The other day we did a guided walk in the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. This is an unusual place in that they are attempting to take a sizeable hunk of land and put it back to the way it would have been before any humans arrived in New Zealand. Let me explain.

New Zealand, being as isolated as it is, was one of the last large islands in the world to be populated by humans. The Maori only arrived around 900 years ago, and westerners around 1650. In addition to a lack of humans, there were almost no mammals in New Zealand. Ecological niches that are filled by mammals (like rats, mice, dogs, cats, ferrets, etc.) in the rest of the world were filled by birds, including a number of flightless birds like the Kiwi. When humans arrived, they brought with them a number of plants and animals (both intentionally and unintentionally) that dramatically upset the ecology. For example Australian possums were introduced to New Zealand to provide a fur animal for trappers (possums here have a soft bushy fur, unlike oppossums in the US), but they have gotten totally out of control and have become a real problem. Possums strip the flowers off of trees and other plants, which not only harm the plants, but take food away from the birds, so there is a huge program to try to get rid of possums.

To preserve some of the native vegetation and animals, many smaller islands around New Zealand have been transformed into wildlife sanctuaries. Introduced animals and plants have been removed, as much as possible, so that the endemic species can flourish. In the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, they have done the same thing, but they did it by building a large fence around the entire sanctuary. When you enter, they have you check your bags to make sure you aren’t bringing in any mice or other animals.

But what impressed me most, is that they have a goal to restore the entire sanctuary to its state before humans arrived. To do this will not be easy, of course, so they have drawn up a 500 year plan. Yes, that’s right, they have a 500 year plan for how they will restore everything back to the way it was before humans arrived. Where else in the world would people think that far ahead? 500 years ago, the Europeans hadn’t even been to New Zealand.

For example, a part of the sanctuary is covered with Monterey Pine trees, which were planted by Europeans (strangely enough, there are almost no Monterey Pines left in Monterey, California, where they were originally from!). Instead of cutting them all down, they are felling them a few at a time. Each time they cut some down, they leave them there as “nurse trees” to enrich the soil for other trees. They have found that the seeds of the endemic trees are still there, and grow back naturally when you cut down the introduced trees. So they will be continuing to cut down introduced trees for the next 100 years or more.

Meanwhile, the sanctuary is a lovely place. There are lots of trails of course. Two lakes. And because there are no possums or other mammals, there is lots of food for the birds, which are everywhere. There is also an old gold mine shaft, which you can go into (they even provide hard hats, so you won’t hit your head on the low ceiling). The shaft is full of cave weta, a rather large insect that looks something like a grasshopper (only much bigger). Here’s a photo:

Webpage of the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.

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