On a Whim Wm's world travels

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.


  1. hi, i have been reading through your blog because i am considering spending some time in NZ (for reasons similar to yours, apparently). thanks for writing this–it has given me a lot of useful fodder for projecting myself to NZ in my mind prior to actually taking the plunge (as well as a lot of good practical info too).

    do you know that these and all the mushroom photos in your gallery from this hike are amanita muscaria? this is possibly the most famous and one of the most potent hallucinogenic mushrooms in the world. here is a link to a little bit of info about it:

    you can get a lot more by googling “amanita muscaria”.

    Comment by paul — 21 Aug 2005 @ 7:40 am

  2. Thanks Paul, I had no idea about those mushrooms!

    Comment by wm — 21 Aug 2005 @ 8:30 am

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