Month: January 2010

Diabetes, cicada, and the english language

My mind is eclectic. Just as when I meditate it’s sometimes hard to keep my mind on one topic – a monkey mind it was called when I studied Theravada Buddhism at Wat Suan Mohk in Sthn Thailand. Well, so it is too when I go walking in Hagley Park – which is right on my doorstep and is a powerful tool in my ‘getting fitter-losing weight-fighting-diabetes’ regime.  Read more here

Amazing what one sees in Hagley Park

New Zealand has a ‘spokesbird’ on twitter and facebook

Sirocco appointed ‘spokesbird’ for conservation

29 Jan 2010

New Zealand’s celebrity parrot, Sirocco the kākāpō, has been officially appointed as the world’s first “spokesbird for conservation”.

Sirocco shot to fame last year after his inappropriate actions during the BBC’s Last Chance to See series, and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says the notorious and rare bird will be a perfect conservation ambassador.

Sirocco – now 13-years-old – is one of just 124 kākāpō left in the world. The flightless species is endemic to New Zealand.

Mr Key formally named Sirocco as official spokesbird during the launch of New Zealand’s involvement in the International Year of Biodiversity, and in recognition of the famous kākāpō’s own celebrity status.

Sirocco’s task will be to highlight New Zealand’s endemic wildlife experiences and conservation work.

‘Last Chance to See’
The kākāpō’s appearance with British media personality Stephen Fry on Last Chance to See featured an incident where Sirocco made an unusual mating attempt with presenter Mark Carwadine. Continue reading “New Zealand has a ‘spokesbird’ on twitter and facebook”

Christchurch first NZ city to be ready for Rugby World Cup 2011

The hallowed ground of what locals still call Lancaster Park - at the AMI Stadium, Christchurch

Yesterday ( 23rd  Jan 2010)  despite the showers and an unseasonbly  cool summer  Saturday,  Cantabrians turned out to check out, and welcome  the new Deans Stand.  Redevelopment of the AMI stadium, home of the  Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby and cricket, was completed late last year – slightly ahead of schedule – so Christchurch is the first city to have it’s staduim ready for the the RWC 2011. ( Seems Rugby League and Soccer -football in the nthn hemisphere – will play here too soon.)

Hadlee Stand from the new Deans Stand
Deans Stand

The 13,523-seat Deans Stand, with a 32-metre-long roof and standing 33m high, gives the stadium a permanent capacity of 38,628: temporary seating for the World Cup raises it to 45,000.  See what TV1 and TV3 have to say about it.

Cantabrians are known in New Zealand as being one-eyed as we support our local team no matter what! Of course  that is very easy — after all we supply many players to the All Blacks, and our number 7 (Ritchie McCaw) is the world’s number 1!

Miss World NZ checks it out too - in her trendy RUGBY GIRL clothes

Magdalena Schoeman, Miss World NZ 2009, who will represent NZ at the Miss World finals in Jo’burg  SA was among the visitors at AMI Stadium – appropriately wearing the fashionable rugby girl label.

An open day brings the locals to check out the new Deans Stand - 23rd January 2010

Bungee jumping, views, and losing weight

I wrote this from a room with a view. A  room in which various national and international ‘artists in residence’ have used to relax , sleep, or work.

I am supposed to be blogging about diabetes and weight .. but that all seems boring: nevertheless I can happily report  – after 7 weeks – my blood pressure is normal and I have lost over 5% of my body weight. Now back to writing a blog, or rather republishing a column I wrote when I was travel editor for a local newspaper.

As I sit and await the muse to visit (surely there must be some residual energy from those other writers) I gaze out the window at the view.

The Peacock Fountain, set in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, was built in cast iron in 1911, and is the background to many photographs travelling to all points of the compass. As people pose, it sprays it’s water regularly from the dolphins, and is well decorated with herons, lily leaves, and other undefined foliage.

I think of other views, other places: some from on high, others just a glimpse through a door or window . . .

read more on my ‘other’ blog here:


Matiu Somes Island: nature at its best – only minutes from our capital city

Want to do something that most New Zealanders (Kiwi) have never done?  Come face to face with a living link to the dinosaurs – in the wild, not in a zoo or behind a fence.

Downtown Wellington, NZ, is only 20 mins away!

The “tuatara are rare, medium-sized reptiles (adults ranging from about 300g to 1000g) found only in New Zealand.” – Left-overs  from the age of the dinosaurs, some 200 million years ago – “all species apart from the tuatara declined and eventually became extinct about 60 million years ago’.  Read more here

Where can you do this?

Continue reading “Matiu Somes Island: nature at its best – only minutes from our capital city”

Travel tips: Are you fearful? Where is the most dangerous place?

The Internet is full of ‘travel tips‘:  unfortunately, many  are from paranoid people who seem to think everybody is out to get them, swindle them, and even capture them so they can rape and murder them – or sell them into slavery. And, the travel tips for women are the worst of the lot!

An aside — when you come to New Zealand, if I , or any one else, offers to help as you read a map                                       or look lost on a street corner …  GUESS WHAT? We just want to be helpful. I don’t have a cousin                                    with a shop, a brother with great accommodation, or a best friend with a fabulous food shop!

But back to all those ‘bad people” lurking around ready to spike your drink or steal your bag: well, yes, there is an occasional, very occasional person like that but they are more than likely in your own backyard than while you are travelling. But please be aware that 99.9999999999999999999999999%   (my unscientific guess-timate) of the world are great people.

For me the kindness of strangers and  how wonderful most people I’ve been in contact with are, are the hallmarks of travel. Many of my best memories are of people whose name I didn’t know, whose language I didn’t speak , but who made my world a better place for having met them.

I’ve even made a few lifelong friendships that have developed, and now, when travelling, l know I have  nothing to fear but fear itself.

I recently read a blog about the most dangerous place in the world …  it’s is in your mind …  and I totally agree with the writer  (read the piece here)

And: Lonely Planets new edition of ‘Best Ever Travel Tips’ comes out February 2010 – I will be tweeting a few of their tips – as you can see I’ve put the cute little, very carry-able and ideal gift, in my suitcase!

getting a few basics together

And of course, you can add your own tips in the comments below

List of 8 travel quotes I love: add yours to the list

Check this - InterIslander and an Air NZ plane at Wellington
Both the InterIslander & Air New Zealand @ Wellington Airport!

Hope you enjoy some of these … from a  list of many I love

  • ‘The five reasons for travel, given to me by Sayyid Abdullah, the watchmaker: “ to leave ones troubles behind one; to earn a living; to acquire a learning; to practice good manners; and to meet honourable men’  Freyer Stark in A winter in Arabia 1940
  • Travel magnifies and intensifies life. It allows you the opportunity to recapture a feeling of wonder, innocence and youth and depending on how vulnerable you are willing to become, it can also deliver a profound experience of unreality that can rattle your most basic beliefs. Eric Hansen.  The traveller
  • “Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
  • “You will have more fun on your vacation if you maintain a mental age of 18 or less. Act just old enough to make your travel connections and stay out of trouble.” – Joe Schwartz
  • Continue reading “List of 8 travel quotes I love: add yours to the list”

I love these Cleopatra birds

mother and chick

It’s absolutely amazing.  I had no idea that you could get so near to them.” Gary, from England, was astonished. “So close they’re touchable!” he said.  Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve was the main reason he had come to Napier.  Already his trip had been worth it. It was great to witness to his enjoyment in one of my favourite places.

Face to face these birds are amazing.  With a wingspan of 1.8 to 2 metres, these members of the booby family live in the world’s largest, and most spectacular, mainland nesting colony. Their pale honey-gold heads and Cleopatra eyes are impressive singly, however when multiplied by 15,000 it’s spectacular and watching them fish as they swoop and dive from great heights is wonderful.

“Whew, it smells like a zoo” said one of my companions when we arrived at the Black Reef colony. It was early in the nesting season and most were sitting on eggs. A few newly hatched chicks were visible from under the protective feathers of the parent, little bundles of white fluff oblivious to the pungent odour. Over-head, parents are gliding, soaring, hovering and bringing gifts of seaweed streamers as well as fish to feed the youngsters who have to develop before they to fly to Australia in a few weeks. When the adults land, we watch as they greet each other, necking and preening as they reunite

Continue reading “I love these Cleopatra birds”

Wings over Whales … photos

Check out these( low resolution) photos, taken when I was a guest of Wings over Whales (Many, many thanks guys, it was FABULOUS!)

They say “In a typical 30 minute flight you will see the majestic Sperm Whale preparing for his next dive and up to 500 Dusky Dolphins playfully swimming. Occasional sightings include Southern Right, Humpback, Fin, Sei, Brydes, Pilot, Southern Bottlenose and Blue Whales. Other, less frequent, visitors to the area include Common, Hectors, Risso’s and Southern Right Whale Dolphins, and Orca.” read more