The Weird and Wonderful Wildlife in New Zealand

We sniffed the air and looked knowingly at each other.  Having spent many hours beach-combing over the last month or so, we were now familiar with the fishy stench of  rock coloured fur seals basking in camouflage on large boulders.

Most of the time the seals were not bothered by our presence and merely followed us with a lazy gaze as we walked past them.  However, on a couple of occasions we almost walked straight into them  and when that happened, one frightened fur seal scared other invisible fur seals leading to a mass migration to the sea with us between them and the sea.
Not wanting to break rule number one again about position of human, seal and sea, we took evasive action and moved away from this increasingly fishy bodiless odour.
New Zealand Fur Seal without Disguise
The opportunity to see so much wildlife was an integral part of our travelling.   We spent hours watching hectors dolphins work shoals of fish in bays; paid a kiwi expert to guide us through a forest on the off chance that the kiwis were still lurking where she last spotted them; walked miles to see some glow worms in a cave and skulked suspiciously at dusk hoping to catch a glimpse of a possum or two. 

I know possums are not loved in New Zealand.  Along with their friends the stoat, cat, dog and hedgehog, they are responsible for the destruction of much of New Zealand’s native wildlife but we’d never seen one, we hadn’t been to Australia yet and we just wanted to see them.However, for all these beautiful and wonderful creatures New Zealand must have one of the ugliest bugs I have ever seen. The weta.

The New Zealand Weta
 The weta, sometimes known as the dinosaur of insects because it has been around since the age of the dinosaurs are large, heavy insects, some of which have a body length of 4 inches which does not even include their very long antennae.  They are a bit like a giant grasshopper and they do leap rather than fly.  The locals tell you the weta will stick to your clothes but are relatively harmless.  However,  they are unable to clarify ‘relatively’ when pressed for clarification.
We stayed at a campsite called Quinney’s Bush.  A large family friendly campsite in the north of South Island New Zealand.  A large Christian group had already set up camp and were busy making use of the excellent facilities including a fantastic adventure playground and campfire.  
We spent the evening sitting by the campfire listening to the large Christian group singing gleefully from their large blue tent before finally heading to our tent at about 1030pm, a bit exhausted from our climb up St Arnaud earlier in the day.  
Cosy and comfy in our sleeping bags, we listened to the Christian group finishing off their evening with ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’  Some of the male youngsters from the group came back to their tents in high spirits.  We didn’t mind their excited chatter but we were a bit surprised to hear that instead of settling down for the night, they took up arms and went off possum shooting.  ‘What happened to the all things bright and beautiful?’ I asked Tony.

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