Sunday, 8 July 2012

of earthquakes and ostriches

Mmm. So we experienced an earthquake for the first time since we've moved into our current flat. And it was a big one! 7.0 on the Richter scale, but apparently because it was so deep, there was no damage, just a lot of rattling around (interestingly enough the one that hit Christchurch was 6.3, but directly below the surface of the city). The quake was also centred off the Taranaki coast, about 400km from where we are. Apparently there was another quake the next day of 5.7 magnitude, but we didn't feel it, also very deep. It was just another reminder of the volatility of the piece of land we're on and how much we are at the mercy of nature, and how despite our technology and toys we are essentially helpless in the face of raw natural power. For us a simultaneously disturbing and comforting fact :-)


We had the strangest, loveliest day yesterday. We walked to the cliffs next to the sea and then turned inwards to the hills and completed an epic walk up to the wind turbines. It was a magnificent day; sunny and misty at the same time with the moistened hills glistening in the bits of sunlight that would break through every once in a while.
Strangely enough, we came across a male ostrich (in Wellington?!) behind a fence who, as soon as he spotted us, went down on his knees and preformed a rather spectacular mating dance. After I got over my initial blushes I at least managed to take a video :)
It is rare to see a male doing the mating dance, unless you live on an ostrich farm of course, but to have them do it for you is something I have never heard of. To see hundreds of males in the wild doing it at the same time is something to behold, and something I have only ever seen on Discovery channel.

So here are some pics of the day's adventure:

Look at the snow! Those are the Kaikoura ranges on the South Island.

See the red rocks? Here is the Maori legend as to how NZ originated:

The legend of Maui and the magic fishhook.
Maui was a demi-god, who lived in Hawaiiki. He possessed magic powers that not all of his family knew about.
One day when he was very young, he hid in the bottom of his brothers' boat in order to go out fishing with them. Once out at sea, Maui was discovered by his brothers, but they were not able to take him back to shore as Maui made use of his magic powers, making the shoreline seem much further away than it was in reality.
So the brothers continued rowing, and once they were far out into the ocean Maui dropped his magic fishhook over the side of the waka. After a while he felt a strong tug on the line. This seemed to be too strong a tug to be any ordinary fish, so Maui called to his brothers for assistance.
After much straining and pulling, up suddenly surfaced Te Ika a Maui (the fish of Maui), known today as the North Island of New Zealand. Maui told his brothers that the Gods might be angry about this, and he asked his brothers to wait while he went to make peace with the Gods.
However, once Maui had gone his brothers began to argue among themselves about the possession of this new land. They took out their weapons and started pounding away at the catch. The blows on the land created the many mountains and valleys of the North Island today.
The South Island is known as Te Waka a Maui (the waka of Maui). Stewart Island, which lies at the very bottom of New Zealand, is known as Te Punga a Maui (Maui's anchor), as it was the anchor holding Maui's waka as he pulled in the giant fish.

 The red rocks are said to be the fish's blood as the brothers beat it with their weapons.

Devil's Gate

Bianca and I slogging up the first hill!

Radar tower on one of the hills. Looked to me like a James Bond villain's hideout.

An you would naturally find on any old hill in Wellington...

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