Gaze in wonder


Gaze in wonder at the beauty of pollination, and the skill of the photographer who captured it.

Milne muses


5 Waitaki wonders


Tourism Waitaki highlights five of the District’s wonders:

Air NZ recently took to our crystal clear skies to find the 8th wonder of the world within Aotearoa.

The Moeraki Boulders got a shout out so we thought we’d divulge a little more information on the many wonders of the Waitaki, just as Antipater of Sidon did in the 2nd century B.C. creating the first wonders of the world list as a guide for tourists in the ancient world.

While only one of the original wonders of the world still exists, these five destinations on our list have all withstood the test of time.

They’re all part of the Vanished World trail within the aspiring Waitaki Whitestone Geoparkand are perfect spots to visit this summer:

1. The Moeraki Boulders

Alien eggs, giant gobstoppers, the Stonehenge of New Zealand—however you refer to the spherical boulders they’re a mysterious must-see!

According to Maori legend, the Arai-te-uru canoe, one of the earliest to reach the South Island crashed on the golden shores of Shag Point, casting the food baskets into the sea, and they washed ashore along a stretch of Koekohe beach where they still exist today, as the Moeraki boulders.

Formed around 60 million years ago, each boulder started life as a pebble or fossil on an ancient sea floor. Over time, the boulders grew into spherical wonders by mud accretion and calcification.

Some of these boulders weigh several tonnes and the most impressive are over two metres wide so don’t even think about bringing one of these onto your Air NZ flights. 

2. Valley of the Whales

With steep limestone walls either side of you, standing in the Valley of the Whales you can almost imagine you’re at the bottom of the world. All along the Awamoko stream that weaves through the lush country land here, the bones and remains of ancient marine creatures, including sea urchins, dolphins, and rare whales can be found.

You’re likely to see more than you expected at this underrated site.

3. Elephant Rocks

You won’t see any actual Elephants roaming the plains south of Duntroon. Nor, are there fossilised remains of the delightful pachyderm. You’ll have to use your imagination!

The large mass of weathered limestone scattered across the grassy fields look like strange creatures made of stone.

There is some debate about which ones resemble the humble elephant…

4. Anatini

Millions of years ago, Anatini was at the bottom of the sea, and now the curious limestone outcrops and caves that remain make the perfect locale for a picnic, 400 metres above sea level.

The name Anatini stems from Maori meaning many caves, and yes there is a lot to explore throughout the sheltered valley.

Hide and seek could last a long time here. Fossils can be spotted in the limestone, including the main drawcard, the partially exposed remains of a baleen whale, which has been placed under plexiglass to ensure its protection.

5. Paritea Clay Cliffs

The striking landforms of the Paritea Clay Cliffs were originally formed as gravels, sands and silt in fresh water lakes and rivers.

The sediments, which were deposited around 20 million years ago, were over time buried and compressed, then uplifted and eroded.

Standing in the heart of the canyon surrounded by sharp pinnacles and steep ravines you’ll feel a flourish within your souls, awe-struck, and possibly feel quite small.

If you want to see photos of these sites, click on the links.

Nature showing off




A chick is born


Doc is livestreaming the hatching of an albatross  chick:

Royal Cam is a 24-hour live stream of a Northern Royal Albatross nest during the breeding season at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head on the southeast tip of New Zealand’s South Island. The season of 2019/2020 has seen the Royal Cam once again move up the hill. Now at Top Flat Track our new pair is OGK (banded Orange, Green, Black) a 21 year old male and YRK (banded Yellow, Red, Black) and 25 year old female. YRK laid the egg on 14 November 2019. This season the live stream has partnered with Cornell Bird Lab. There are some new features including a trial of night vision and the ability to pan and zoom the camera at the rangers discretion.


Annular eclipse


An annular solar eclipse took place a couple of days ago:

The moon crossed the face of the sun in a dazzling “ring of fire” solar eclipse today (Dec. 26) to the delight of potentially millions of spectators around the world in the Eastern Hemisphere. Even astronauts in space marveled at the view. 

The eclipse, known as an annular solar eclipse, began in Saudi Arabia, with the moon passing in front of the sun, but not completely covering the star’s face. Instead, it left a brilliant ring, or annulus, that gave it a “ring of fire” effect. It was the last solar eclipse of 2019, indeed, of the decade. . .



The Secret Language of Trees



Hat tip: Brain Pickings

‘Tis not the season . . .


. . . to be hailing:

Rural round-up


Mackenzie Country and Waitaki: Balancing the extremes – Sally Rae:

Over the past two decades, the Mackenzie Basin and Waitaki Valley have undergone significant change.

The region has gone from a little known backwater to one of the highest profile battlegrounds over environmental protection and agricultural intensification, farmer Annabelle Subtil says.

The Omarama woman  addressed  delegates at the New Zealand Grassland Association’s 80th annual conference in Twizel last week. . . 

Farmers find irrigation can be controversial -Sally Rae:

For Glenn and Sarah Fastier, farming Simons Hill Station  on the eastern side of State Highway 8 between Tekapo and Twizel  is like living in a glasshouse.

The Mackenzie district was an area  many New Zealanders felt connected to and, when it came to land use, there were a lot of differing opinions as to what was appropriate, Mr Fastier said.

They farm next to Simons Pass Station, where a high-profile dairying operation is being established by  Dunedin businessman Murray Valentine,  attracting the ire of environmental activists.

“There’s definitely a different public perception on anything related to dairy. I don’t often think it’s justified. . . 

Guiney for the protest and McBride for the promise – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra shareholders have spoken loudly with the re-election of Leonie Guiney and election of soon-to-be-former Zespri chairman Peter McBride.

One director position is unfilled because incumbent Ashley Waugh, Maori farming leader Jamie Tuuta and multi-farm Canterbury candidate John Nicholls did not reach the required 50% approval of votes cast.

Waugh’s failure to reach the threshold is another aspect of the protest vote and the mood for change among farmer-shareholders after Fonterra’s worst year in financial results and setbacks. . . 

Details vague on proposed rewards scheme – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra will introduce a single on-farm assurance and recognition scheme including the existing milk quality, animal welfare and environmental requirements.

The scheme will begin next season, farmers at the annual meeting in Lichfield were told.

Chairman John Monaghan said the new scheme has not been named and Farm Source employees will interview farmers on the types of recognition and rewards it should contain.

“Once the commercial value is better understood we will decide whether to expand the programme to include financial incentives.”

A small minority of farmers who do not meet minimum standards will be subject to demerits, as is the case now. . . 

Profits up at Westland Milk pre-tax – Brendon McMahon:

Westland Milk Products yesterday posted a before-tax profit of $3.25million as it tries to claw its way to profitability.

Last year’s before-tax profit was just $29,000.

On releasing its annual report the West Coast farmer-owned co-operative acknowledged it was still not industry competitive and lacked “financial flexibility” due to high debt levels and the need for more working capital. . . 

Four Mycoplasma bovis myths busted:

Many farmers are going through a challenging time with the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. But the Ministry for Primary Industries says their stress and anxiety is being compounded by some misinformation. Here the MPI dispels some of those myths:

Myth 1: Mycoplasma bovis has been in New Zealand since around 2004

All of the available research, as well as data collated during on-farm investigations, indicates that Mycoplasma bovis is likely to have arrived in New Zealand in late 2015 to early 2016. Although investigations are ongoing, two pieces of evidence give MPI confidence about that: . . 

Three young leaders up for major agribusiness award :

THREE young agriculturalists from Australia and New Zealand are through to the final for the prestigious 2019 Zanda McDonald Award. 

The award is widely recognised as a badge of honour in the agriculture industry, recognising future leaders and innovative young professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

The 2019 finalists are made up by two Australians and one New Zealander, who were described by judges as ‘diverse and equally impressive’.  . . 

Kea get own gym


How could you not love a country where kea get their own gym to distract them from playing with road cones?

Vote for Sam and NZ beauty


Otago University student Sam Deauchrass, and talented photographer, has been selected in the top 25 of the Discovery Channel’s intern project.

In a Facebook post he says:

This is where it gets serious…it has come down to a public vote and the 5 people with the most votes by the 19th of February get an interview with the Discovery Channel management team in Sydney Australia! Below is the link to vote
The internship itself looks incredible, working for the Discovery Channel you get to travel around the world to locations such as New York, Italy, Iceland, Malaysia, Singapore & London, also working days at the Discovery Channel Headquarters in London & USA.
Just scroll to my photo & You can vote 10x daily (Literally click ‘Vote Now’ 10 times), it’s so easy to vote and has the potential to make such a big difference!…/
Please share & spread the word! 🙂

Sam’s photo is a stunning one of Nugget Point lighthouse, shortly after sunset.

A win in this prestigious competition would not just be good for Sam but also showcase New Zealand’s natural beauty.

Please follow the link and vote for him – it’s easy as clicking vote 10 times.


366 days of gratitude


Mother duck was agitated.

Three of her ducklings were safely huddled behind her but five more had fallen through the grating of the cattle stop.

Mother duck clucked and the ducklings clucked back but she couldn’t help them and they couldn’t help themselves.

I knelt on the cattle stop and reached down, the ducklings scuttled away from me and into a corner.

I stretched my left arm through the grating to deter them from running to the left and reached from behind the ducklings with my right, grabbed some down between two fingers, lifted the duckling up and deposited it beside its mother.

She shooed it towards the other four and continued clucking.

Four more times I herded the ducklings into the corner with one arm and picked one up with the other.

Four more times the mother shooed the rescued duck towards the others.

When the fifth was safely reunited with the family, mother duck stopped quacking and herded her offspring down the path.

Today I’m grateful for the opportunity to make a duck family happy.

Visualising earthquakes


AUT and Colab lecturer Dr Stefan Marks used a virtual reality simulation to visualise the 14 November 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake and every earthquake in New Zealand since 1900:

366 days of gratitude


When the world seems like an increasingly uncertain and unstable place, and events beyond our control threaten to impact on us, it’s helpful to retain a bit of perspective and remember that regardless of what hits the headlines and the gloomy prognosis the opinionati deliver as a result of that, the sun still rises in the east.

This week it has been doing so in a particularly spectacular fashion, painting the sky above the horizon in brilliant shades as I begin my morning constitutional and I’m grateful for that.

366 days of gratitude


Today I had to drive through the Pig Route to Ranfurly and back.

The sun was shining, the sky was cloudless and the scenery stunning.

I was reminded yet again how much natural beauty surrounds us and I’m grateful for that.

Quote of the day


If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that–warm things, kind things, sweet things–help and comfort and laughter–and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all. –  Frances Hodgson Burnett, who was born on this day in 1849.

Quote of the day


No better way is there to learn to love Nature than to understand Art. It dignifies every flower of the field. And, the boy who sees the thing of beauty which a bird on the wing becomes when transferred to wood or canvas will probably not throw the customary stone.Oscar Wilde who was born on this day in 1854.

Fantail friends


The Wash in the ODT publishes readers’ photos – this fantail huddle in yesterday’s paper will be hard to beat.

Snowstorm huddle a fantail phenomenon
ODT reader Jim Columb snapped this picture of a flock of fantails (piwakawaka) huddling together on an electrical cord in a garage on the Otago Peninsula on Sunday, just before it started to snow.

If you click on the link you’ll find a video of the birds.

Red sky at morning . . .


red sky

Quote of the day

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. – Robert Louis Stevenson

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