Rarely visited other than by locals in the know, this small community has at times been a bustling whaling port (22 whales caught and rendered in 1867, none left by 1877, how’s that for supremacy/stupidity?), a great fishing port, until the railway kept on being washed away, a popular tourist spot in the salt water swimming baths, favoured following the shark killing of a fellow swimmer (until they washed away….) and is now a beautiful tranquil low key holiday/fishing area with a tendency to attract large crowds of men (fishers?) and with a restaurant which has attracted the arrival of Rick Stein. Fleurs. Possibly Fleur’s.
The main attraction locally are the Moeraki boulders. Said to be concretions formed over a period of 4million years, they are spherical items formed around a central limestone crystal core and are extruded out of the bluffs. Some have been found to contain dinosaur bones. Maori legend has it that they are gourds that fell out of a voyaging waka or canoe that foundered close by. Some had split open, one forming a beautiful miniature rock pool:
The man in the picture, Stan Lusby, tells us that there is a movement to have it removed. Apparently it has hallucinogenic properties and is used on spears by South American tribesmen. Stan is English but is a hydrographer (surveying the ocean bed but essentially by training a chartered surveyor) who left the uk many many years ago. He has stood for nz parliament several times (maximum vote achieved I think:39) and is extremely learned in many areas: star navigation and the polynesians, the story of Odysseus, Lincolnshire, the British parliamentary system and more.
It had fruit that reminded me of passion fruit too. I gingerly picked one and tried to open it with a piece of dry stick to inspect the contents. It did split a little and the juice ran over my hands. At which point I felt anxious, sweaty and my fingers tingled. I reminded myself that each small settlement has a defibrillator and opted not to tell Keith of my symptoms as I felt so silly, particularly after Stans recent warning. …..
The other major tourist activity is a visit to the lighthouse, and in particular the penguin colony (although they are out at sea during the time the area is open). This is a long hot walk along a gravel road – winding and hilly.
We were taken by this advert/ building in close proximity:
We were taken on by an older man who wound down his window and shouted ‘you want to get a hit man’ to Keith, who was taken by surprise. Maybe the man felt we should have his and hers hallucinogenic experiences.
And then we were taken in by a young Chinese couple who offered us a lift to the colony.
We saw one yellow eyed penguin (endangered species alert!!) but dozens of seals cavorting in the waves, lounging on the rocks, feeding their young and generally just being, independent of human observers.
And again we were picked up on the road and given a ride home by a British couple who left Basingstoke with 4 young children 44 years ago and have never been back. They were lovely. Their dog Findlay was adorable:
We discovered later that my hallucinogenic fruit was a ‘banana passion fruit’ tasty when ripe and yellow and freely picked and eaten by passers by. My symptoms were obviously anxiety induced!
The man who said ‘ you want to get a hit man’ was apparently advising Keith that some protective headwear would be in order. (You want to get a hat)
No trips for either of us then (wouldn’t recognise one if it came with a label round it’s neck). But we’re on holiday so I chose to do something I’ve virtually never done before.
I dried my hair with a hairdryer. It’s now fluff. That’s the height of excitement.
Endangered species: seen 1 eaten 0