Uniquely New Zealand

Do you have an innie or an outie? I used to have a half in/half out. The gym teacher would say, ” All the innie bellybuttons line up on this side. All the outie bellybuttons line up on that side. Joy, wait there. ”

A dodgeball platypus,that’s me. A line of one, living outside the box and creating my own darn coloring book.

Driving through New Zealand towns we notice that unlike the gorgeous landscape the buildings tend to be a bit mundane. The houses are cookie cutter ranches. Most are square with maybe a couple flowers or a fence. Sometimes we are surprised to see a cow or horse in the yard, but then again there are probably sheep grazing within the city limits. A gas station, small store selling groceries or souvenirs, maybe a school, and luckily a public toilet are pretty typical town sites. We’ve found the food even bland, our pizza seemed to lack any spices.

So, when we arrived in Oamaru with it’s old ornate Victorian stone buildings down by the waterfront we had to stop to explore. It was a curious juxtaposition of warehouses mingling with art galleries, cafes and used book stores. It was fun to wander in and out, poking our noses here and there.

After peeking into a warehouse with stacks of wool bales, we climbed the steps of a neighboring building which opened into a large room filled with faces. We felt as though eyes were watching us everywhere in this museum slash store filled with quirky stuff that we loved looking at, but didn’t need to bring home.

In the back corner, hidden amongst the doodads and thing-a-ma-jigs sat a woman  with brush in hand. She was as unique as everything else in the shop. A velvet hat tilted just so topped off her brightly colored homespun Victorianisque outfit.

As we walked back down the stairs, I whispered to Kevin, “I think she’s found her niche.”

  He replied, ” I think you would fit in here, too.” There is a place for us all. Just some of us find it harder to find.

We got more excited when we found out that this part of town was where the Steampunk Headquarters was located with it’s Dragon headed train and airship. There was even a Steampunk playground.

Steampunk science fiction blends Victorian era with robots and steam power.  You put old junk together with some other old junk and create something cool. It was certainly not blah.

It was not far from here where we had one of our first encounters with the unique New Zealand wildlife. At about a foot high, the Little Blue Penguin is the tiniest penguin. It was well worth waiting until nightfall to see these adorable creatures wade out of the ocean and climb up onto the rocks. They waddled  past Fur seals lazing about on the shore, across grass, and under brush to play and rest until they would go out to hunt again in the morning. We were told not to “flash” the penguins, so we don’t have any photographs of them.

It was also difficult to take pictures of one of the largest birds, the Royal Albratross, even when it circled overhead. With a 10ft plus wingspan, we were so in awe it was hard to get the camera out in time. These birds spend years out at sea flying over the arctic and never touching land. They do have to land to rear their young, and luckily for us there is one nesting site on the  NZ coast. From the viewing area we got to see four chicks being raised and a couple of teenage albatross fooling around.

Another unique bird to New Zealand is the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin. There are only about 700 of them left in NZ. They get stressed out easily. Unlike most penguins they are solitary birds who like  to nest in the forest and brush along the shoreline. We got to see a couple of these birds in the wild, but we tried to keep our presence low  so as to not bother them. It was moulting season, so many weren’t feeling or looking their best. One looked like he may have been bitten, but lucky for him he landed near a penguin rehab place.



We thought we spotted a Kiwi bird in the woods, but it turned out to be the more common Weka. Turns out there were a lot more of those weka birds running about in the daytime. The kiwi is  a more elusive nocturnal bird. Both are flightless, Brown and about the size of a chicken.

The only kiwis we’ve seen so far are in avairies. You walk into a darkly lit room, allow your eyes to adjust,  squint and try to see if you can spot a Kiwi that’s not hiding in it’s burrow.

Pointing at the numerous seagulls we’ve seen on our journey, I asked Kevin why he wasn’t getting excited to see them. They can put  on a cute face when they want to share your lunch. He said he would be just as happy to see them if they weren’t so common. I bet their moms think they are each pretty special.

3 thoughts on “Uniquely New Zealand

    1. norion5_wp Post author

      You’d like it here so far this country feels the most like home that we’ve been in. If I were going to recommend a foreign country to a first time American traveler, I’d say New Zealand, or Australia.


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