Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Evening

It’s Friday, the last day of our mini-tour of the South Island. After leaving the Alpenhorn Motel this morning we drove up to the wildlife centre in the hopes of getting a better view of a takahe. We were in luck, as an elderly female named Alpine happened to be enjoying her breakfast right as we arrived.

She was beautiful! About the size of a chicken, with a rotund body and long red legs. Her plumage was blue-green and looked a bit natty, given her austere age of 20 years or so. She seemed very careful and deliberate in her movements, selecting each pellet of food carefully with her large red beak. Soon, though, a mallard duck dropped by. Nosing the takahe aside, this interloper began guzzling up the food pellets at an amazing rate. Poor Alpine’s measured efforts couldn’t keep up with this prodigious display of gluttony: the food was soon consumed and the duck moved on to a second course at a different bowl.

We loitered for a while before I managed to tear myself away, then headed into town to pick up some surprisingly tasty breakfast pastries from the grocery store. A quick stop at the gas station and post office and we were on the road. We headed south, hoping to scout out some locations used in the filming of Lord of the Rings.

We saw an unnamed river which stood in for Anduin, but our attempt to find the Dead Marshes was unsuccessful. The searching itself was enjoyable, though, and it provides a good excuse to see countryside we might not have otherwise.

Next we headed North to Queensland, where we had lunch in a small park. A few dozen kilometers out of town we stopped in the hopes of seeing the river gorge where the Pillars of the King were filmed, and it turned out there was a bungee jumping operation perched atop the cliffs. We stood and watched a few jumpers, then took off toward the east coast.

We’re staying tonight in a tiny town called Palmerston, where we had excellent vegetarian pizza at a place called De Rail Cafe.

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