Stewart Island

Like many off-shore islands. Stewart Island seems to have its own rhythm of life. Like St Mary’s in the Scillies, the centre of community life revolves around one small township, Oban, and the few roads that exist, radiate no more than 6km from the town centre. In other words, everything of importance should be within walking distance……but you would be amazed at the number of cars on the island.

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There is even a bus service, a bike hire business, and a car rental service!!

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I cycled most of the sealed roads on the island, and I still only clocked up 14km

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but the quality was in the climbs and descents…sharp and unforgiving, but with ‘stop-in-your-tracks’ views over every crest.

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Despite the beautiful bays and beaches, this is not a bucket-and-spade destination. Reason? The water is cold, even in summer, and it rains for 265 days in the year…but not today :0)

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This is an old wind-up telephone from the 1920s, still seemingly functional, by the roadside. I tried calling the operator, but it must have been her lunch break……..

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Stewart Island is a microcosm of the principal environmental problems challenging NZ. Its native population of flightless birds including the kiwi, has been decimated to the point of extinction by predator mammals introduced by emigrants and settlers in the last 150 years. Stoats were introduced to control the rabbit population, but they got distracted by bird’s eggs and chicks. Possums were introduced from Australia for their fur,  but their predation is destructive. So too is the presence of domestic dogs and cats, all of which causes heated debate as to where to find a solution. One thing I can say, following my ride the length of the country: there is a worrying widespread silence, where there should be a cacophony of birdsong. One press article maintained that over 21 million eggs and chicks are lost to predators every year,

which is sending some species into a downward spiral.

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Flowers on road cones are an expression of solidarity with the people of Christchurch, who are remembering and commemorating the second anniversary of the earthquake that destroyed their city.

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Tomorrow, back to Invercargill to prepare the bike for its flight to Sydney. Oz, here we come!
http://www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1

About Frank Burns

My journeys around the world are less about riding a bicycle, and more about what happens when I get off the bicycle. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on February 23, 2013, in New Zealand End-to-End 3000kms and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. A fantastic achievement, Frank, and most envious. You realise that you’ve only scratched the surface and will have to take Jenny there to visit. We’ve done two trips to NZ, but not sure if we will ever get back there. I see you have bottoms on in the photos at Bluff, so the weather is a bit cooler? Did you get out to the lighthouse?
    I have found a UK supplier for the Beechwood Honeydew Honey. One can buy a triple pack, Manuka, Wild Thyme & Beechwood for 19.95 + 2.95 post. Will let you have details when you get back. Have bought some already, but not yet tried the Beechwood.
    Have a safe trip to Sydney. Are you travelling the main road to Melbourne as that must be the busiest road in Oz. You will certainly notice the traffic being heavier there, so take care. Keep your eye out for muggers, as well.
    See you back here in due course and look forward to discussing your trip with you.
    Best regards
    Dave

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  2. Well done Frank – fantastic achievement! I’m sure you’ll get a flurry of late donations now you’ve completed this gruelling trip. Hope to see you on the 20th of March.

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  3. much congrats frank! where next ?

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  4. Thanks Dave! I look forward to getting more of that great honey. I eat it by the spoonful!

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  5. Thanks Peter. Sadly, can’t make the 20th. I still have 1000km in Australia to do…..

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  6. Thanks Sam. In answer to your question: don’t know yet. But for Syria, I’d do an ancient route to Jerusalem.

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