June 11, 2017, 4:32 a.m.
Christchurch, New Zealand
What a day! I got up early in the morning, had a nice breakfast, and said my farewells to Irish, the cat. My host gave me a ride for a final view of the glacier and dropped me off at the bus station. The bus took me to Greymouth, the largest town on the west coast of New Zealand with a population of a whopping 16,000 people. On the way to Greymouth the bus made one long stop for lunch in the town of Hokitika, and parked directly in front of the National Kiwi Center. I decided to skip lunch until a later time and went in. This was a great decision!
All two people at the center were very friendly, and helped me make the most of my half-hour break by taking me to see the eels and the kiwis and giving them a feeding. Actually, I was shown how to feed the eels and then I spent a good ten minutes putting strips of beef into their mouths. The eels were huge and quite old, on average one hundred years, so they were not aggressive. I have to say, it was fun feeding the eels, but I would not want to be in the water with them. Those things are terrifying! With a whole bunch of large eels wading around expecting to be given food I couldn’t help but be extra careful to keep my hands out of reach. That said, I was shown how to touch them, and I gave one a quick rub. It was very slimy!
I finally saw the kiwi. They are nighttime creatures, so luring them out requires a dark room. They are also quite fearful and will be easily scared away and go into hiding. It helps to have a bowl of food around. In this case I did not enter the cage with them but I was able to watch the kiwi eating a meal. Given the darkness we were not allowed to take photographs. I do have photographs with the eels. Kiwis are much, much cuter. Other interesting creatures observed included the tuatara and the snake-necked turtle.
That’s enough about the National Kiwi Center. I shall now smoothly segue into my arrival to Greymouth and journey on the TransApline railway, which took me to my present location of Christchurch. It was much like taking an Amtrak, but without phone reception most of the way, and with the entire mountainous New Zealand landscape passing me by. I took several photos from my seat before finding out that the entire back car was a windowless viewing platform. I stood there for the remainder of the trip taking photos and videos, many of which have been posted to the Google album for the south island.
Currently I am sitting on the couch in the Airbnb accommodation, watching a rugby match. I have become a fan of rugby.
All the best,
NEW ZEALAND (SOUTH)
NEW ZEALAND (NORTH)