Wednesday, September 20, 2006

KAKAPO PARROTS - Slartibartfast and Captain Cook

Yvonne Martin has written a nice little article for New Zealand's Stuff about her trip around the glacier-carved fiords of southern New Zealand with Real The company offers trips around Fiordland, Queenstown and Stewart Island, and the photos of the fiords on their site are quite quite spectacular. I sense Slartibartfast's talented hand at work...
 * Check out Robin's pictures from the comments!

Yvonne writes...
We are seeing the rough-hewn western coastline almost as Captain Cook did over 200 years ago when he charted these waters and mighty fiords, kissed by mist and hallowed by rainbows, probing into the heart of the national park.

Come nightfall, we watch the sun slide behind layers of mountains, emblazoning the sky and waters with a palette of pinks and lilacs.
At the entrance to Dusky Sound, Anchor Island also has remarkable wildlife. It is now home to 30 kakapo released here in an effort to boost their desperately small population of 86. Some are raffish young males exiled to this bird borstal, where they will hopefully charm a mate into breeding.

One of the bird fanciers among us is thrilled to chance across a kakapo feather, then a "snoring" rock on the walk track. His luck is in. They turn out to be the calling cards of a kakapo that has ducked into a hole, waiting for our entourage to pass.

Where else in the world can you stumble across flightless kakapo in the wild, sharing a beaten track with trampers? We cannot think of anywhere.
Yvonne's mention of Captain Cook puts me in mind of home back in the UK. I grew up in sight of the Captain Cook monument near Great Ayton in the north east of England. Although I was well aware of Cook's travels to Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, it's only been fairly recently that I've actually read more about them in any detail. Cook's journeys are an absolutely fascinating story, and I can thoroughly recommend "Captain James Cook" by Richard Alexander Hough.

I also have a hardback copy of Tony Horwitz's "Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before" that I am actually finished with. If anyone would like to read it, I'd be happy to pass it along in exchange for a donation to our Save The Rhino Fundraiser. Contact me by email if you're interested.

Finally, I wonder whether CBS's "Survivor - Cook Islands" might make mention of the great explorer for whom the islands are named! We'll see - isn't always that interested in educating the audience about the places they visit. Astonishing to think that Mark Burnett's show about solving jigsaw puzzles is still running in its thirteenth season!

**UPDATE** OK, "Surivor Cook Islands" proves me wrong immediately! The second episode (aired last night) featured a competition with a memory test about Captain Cook's travels. Jeff Probst gave the tribes some facts about three of Cook's journeys. Doesn't it figure...?


Robin Capper said...

The Fiordland area, Slartibartfastland?, is spectacular. I been a few times but haven't seen a kakapo which is a good excuse to go back!

Reflective Morning

Mosher said...

Indeed - in the last couple of weeks I've seen the monument in Sydney Harbour indicating where Cook set foot; and another monument at Danger Point near Surfer's Paradise. There are statues and things all over Oz dedicated to him!