Three-eyed beasts

Trip Start Sep 23, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Friday, January 5, 2007

We left Te Anau and headed south to Invercargill. The city was flat and uninspiring, but its museum was wonderful, with beautiful rose gardens full of blossoming fragranced flowers, and a tuatarium, with prehistoric tuatara. The species has been around a very long time, and its members can get very old. Although they look like iguanas, they predate lizards- the spiney scales on their backs are not scales, but more like primitive feathers! They have probably reached such a great age by doing as little as possible- even their breathing seems slow! I wondered if they blinked, but we didn't have the hours of free time it would have taken to find out. It was very exciting when one moved its head slightly and we could be sure that they were living creatures! I guess that being from such an ancient species, they have evolved past the need to do anything in a hurry. Or they are actually from Latin America. They have three eyes- the third is only visible in the young, and is on top of their head. As a teacher, I would find one of those very useful if genetic engineering ever becomes that well-developed.
We continued on to the Catlins, leaving tarmac behind us. We visited Waipapa Point, where a solar-powered lighthouse overlooked crashing waves. The sea was a beautiful azure blue, and huge waves pounded on the rocks. Red-beaked gulls battled against the wind to get out to sea, and two male Hookers sealions snored on the beach, occasionally peering at us through watery eyes. We then braved the wind at Slope Point, the most southerly point in New Zealand, and almost equidistant between the Equator and the South Pole. It is the home of New Zealand's most southerly sheep, who seemed windswept but happy.
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