Penguins pop up everywhere in Christchurch

During the school, summer holidays Christchurch was invaded by penguins.  Each was designed by local artists, and numerous schools, to be displayed throughout the city as a pop-up penguin art trial.

I saw some mums with the kids as they kicked them off on a map, I also believe there was an app that people could follow too.  I randomly came across about a dozen and here they are for you to see.

Like the giraffes that were scattered around the city a few years ago, these too will be auctioned with the proceeds going to the Cholmondeley Children’s Centre. (,nz )

See more on Instagram and Facebook @popuppenguins


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Otago Peninsula: ‘finest example of eco-tourism’

Dunedin, New Zealand: setting the scene for a series of blogs about attractions in the area including ‘the peninsula’, the ‘ finest example of eco-tourism.’

dunedin rainbow IMG_20140123_163041

Otago Peninsula was a volcano some 10 or 13 million years ago – give or take a week or two.

65 thousand years ago it became an island when sea levels rose and, more recently, now a  peninsula, Captain Cook and the hardy self-sufficient pioneers fought battles along  the notorious 2000 kilometres coastline which is now scattered with shipwrecks.

With an annual rainfall of 700/800 millimetres and mists that roll in from the sea it now has 5% of the area covered in bush: mainly broadleaf trees and kanaka.

  • Neville Peat a local nature writer based in Broad Bay says the area is a ‘kind of supermarket for marine life, souped up by currents and adjacent deep-water canyons. The accolades continue.
  • Botanist and environmentalist David Bellamy said the peninsula is ‘the finest example of ecotourism in the world’   while Mark Carwardine,  zoologist and outspoken conservationist, writer, TV and radio presenter, wildlife photographer, columnist,  best-selling author, a wildlife tour operator calls New Zealand a “wildlife hotspot”.

He says it’s one of the best places in the world to see great wildlife and recently he was on a whirlwind tour, searching for our equivalent to Africa’s ‘big five’, the New Zealand ‘small five’ endangered species: hector’s dolphinkeakiwituatarayellow-eyed penguin .. all found on or around this amazing outcrop of land.

This area is not just a day trip from Dunedin but a place to base yourself – a destination in its own right.

So watch this space (make it easy by signing up for email updates on the top right-hand corner of this page) for stories about albatross, penguins, castle,  boat trips, fur seals, settlers museum, bus stops, birds, gardens, fabulous cottage accommodation, heritage city walks, the Taieri Gorge train, Chinese gardens, butterfly house and the Orokonui ecosanctuary and more!

The New Zealand rental car company I used in Dunedin  was the  New Zealand Rent A Car  (branches all over NZ)

NZ Rent A Car outside my accommodation at the sables
NZ Rent A Car outside my accommodation at the Stables, Larnach Castle


Little Blue Penguins and Skiing Grasshopppers

The next time I go to Matu-Somes Island (or any other outdoor place in New Zealand) I will have this book in my bag.

Little Blues, lay your eggs here. Matu-Somes
Tuatara on Matu-Somes

I learn from this book (pg 44) that our ‘little blue penguins‘ are the same as the Australian ‘fairy penguins’, and that the giant weta (pg 281)are gravely threatened.

I also see we have six different grasshoppers in New Zealand. One is called the ‘skiing grasshopper‘ 9p.277) : “Instead of floundering about in soft snow, this grasshopper ‘skis’ from danger. using its legs as ski-poles and its smooth abdomen as a snowboard, ‘skiing siggy’ is an excellent downhill racer.’ How cool is that – what wonderful creature live here!

With 80% of NZ species being found only on these islands, this book helps us know more about our unique wildlife.

COLLINS FIELD GUIDE TO NEW ZEALAND WILDLIFE Terence Lindsey and Rod Morris (Collins)

If uniqueness were a quality that could somehow be cubed, the result could legitimately be applied to New Zealand’s wildlife. But it has received a most fearful battering over the past century or two, and is now greatly in need of some tender loving care. Every little bit helps’ say this books author’s, Lindsey and Morris.

Evidently there are no island groups anywhere in the world that are comparable to New Zealand in size, latitude, climate and isolation. It seems we have around 10,000 species of insects, 2000 spiders, nearly 300 snails, and perhaps a further couple of thousand of all other groups combined.

This book is a completely updated edition and an extensive guide to well over 400 species of New Zealand fauna, including both native and  introduced species.  Each entry succinctly describes both habits and habitats, distribution, classification, breeding patterns, food and recognition tips to aid amateur identification.  The significantly expanded text also includes the latest research findings and changes in classification and nomenclature that have occurred in the past 10 years, along with many new photographs.

“It seems to me, far too few people — New Zealanders and ‘foreigners’ alike — are aware of just how extraordinary New Zealand wildlife is. For any animal enthusiast with a global perspective, it’s right up there on the billboard with its name in lights along with Hawaii, the Galapagos and Madagascar.” –  Terrence Lindsay (Zoologist and ornithologist)

Rod Morris’s stunning photographic work has also received widespread international acclaim. Previously a producer with Wild South, he is now a freelance natural history photographer.

This penguin washed up lost in NZ: On Peka Peka beach , north of Wellington 2011. He and his kind do not feature in the book of course! I'm using the photo is just because I like it. (see more elsewhere in this blog)

Despite rumours, visitors attractions are open in Christchurch, New Zealand

Despite rumours to the contrary, many visitor attractions in Christchurch are open! The International Antarctic Centre, the Tranz-Alpine rail experience, the Air Force Museum, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, Hassle-free Tours, Tanks for Everything, Horsepower Experience, Christchurch Casino, Ferrymead Heritage Park and Up, Up and Away ballooning adventures and Beadz Unlimited, are just some of the over 26 Christchurch’s tourism attractions in full operation – and these numbers are increasing as I write.

In September and October many more will be back in action: Canterbury Museum, a central-city  iSITE Centre, and Christchurch Bike Tours to name a few.

I went to the multi-award-winning International Antarctic Centre to see its new movie experience, ‘Ice Voyage’, a 4D movie that involves an all-round total sensory experience: with seals sneezing on me; ice about to pierce us; and a gull that … well go and see! I loved the young penguins with their fluffy highland cow-like scarves and coats! Despite real snow on the ground, outside, we, the audience, felt part of a real Antarctic storm – sort of like coals to Newcastle!  Of course, as usual here, kids of all ages love riding the real Antarctic all-terrain Hagglund vehicle, while I spend ages with the very cute, rescued, penguins in the indoor-outdoor penguin viewing area

Outdoor experiences include visiting Christchurch’s world renown, Botanic Gardens which are open, and with their Caterpillar Garden Tours operating.

Punting on the Avon at the Antigua Boatsheds is a time-old activity for locals and visitors, a leisurely way to see another side of the city – and in cold weather make sure you wrap up with the blankets they offer.

 There’s no-where to stay? Well, that’s not true either! Between Christchurch International Airport and the central city there are 11 hotels, 5 lodges and apartments, 109 motels, 15 holiday parks, 15 backpacker lodges and 68 bed & breakfasts in full operation. There should be something to suit every taste. I stayed in the central city at the 5-star Classic Villa, a handy spot to walk to the new Events Village which has sprung up in North Hagley Park  ( NZs’ largest urban open space -164.637 hectares) to host performances and events in the city for the next six months.

Set up by Christchurch City Council, with support of the Government, a large inflatable dome is the centrepiece of the village.  Two large geodesic domes are also underway for events throughout the year – of course the Rugby World Cup Fanzone will be set in this Events village too. The ever-popular World Buskers Festival will be the last event set in the Events Village, from 19-29 January 2012 and the Ellerslie International Flower Show will be back in Hagley Park in March 2012.

For more information when in Christchurch, a temporary iSITE Visitor Centre is in the foyer of The Chateau on the Park hotel, Deans Avenue, open seven days a week, 8.30am to 5pm.

penguins and the award winning International Antarctic Centre

‘It’s like living in a soap opera’ says the woman feeding the penguins: she had just described how CC ‘doesn’t like water’ and had recently ‘left her old boyfriend for Elvis’, her new one.Prince Edward meets an little blue penguin

CC had been found in Napier by Napier City Council workers (hence the CC) who were digging a storm water drain in West Quay when a digger hit the chicks’ obscured nest and that’s how she came to be rescued and end up living in Christchurch at the New Zealand Penguin Encounter in the International Antarctic Centre.

This is New Zealand’s first combined indoor and outdoor penguin viewing area and it can hold up to 26 Little Blue penguins in its Banks Peninsula natural-themed environment and 80,000 litre pool.  We visitors can see the ‘Little Blues’ above and below water.

All the penguins are birds that have been rescued and with physical disabilities that have left them defenceless, many would not have survived in the wild. Interestingly some of the bird have to wear little blue boots: living in captivity they spend more time on land and get sore feet!

After hand-feeding many of the disabled birds in the water a few who cannot feed in water yet are hand fed. A couple of them climb on Vicky’s lap.

“Climbing in my knee has nothing to do with being friendly or tame, it’s purely wanting the fish” she tells us – despite that, I would love to be so up close and personal with them. It seems that even wild penguins have food preferences, with one of them turning away whenever the ‘wrong variety’ of fish was offered! Continue reading “penguins and the award winning International Antarctic Centre”

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