New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands - 2008

One enterprising former fisherman, tired of his profession, came up with the unique idea of collecting the rainwater from the roof of the new community center and selling it on the mainland as a healthy bottled drink. Apparently, the lure of Stewart Island rainwater has made his business thrive. There are a couple of stores in Oban, a motel or two, a couple of restaurants, and the regional headquarters of the redoubtable DOC. Property values in the town have risen due to the demand by mainlanders who want to own their vacation spots. Some really lovely houses with spectacular views of the many beaches were on our bus tour agenda. There are lovely beaches around the island that certainly look more tropical than subantarctic. Oban is a pretty little town indeed. A visit to the Fuchsia Walk was strongly suggested to us and we were happy to comply. The walk, right in the middle of the town, has been created by the townfolk with the assistance of DOC to show off the birdlife that continues to live in town along with the human inhabitants. Most enjoyable on the shaded and gravel walkway was watching the kakas (an endemic New Zealand parrot) displaying and performing courtship dances. They are quite beautiful when they open their olive wings and reveal the vibrant orange feathers underneath. They were screeching and bouncing from limb to limb with lively animation as they furled and unfurled those flamboyant wings. We also saw the oddly mismatched NZ wood pigeon with its comically round body with its ridiculous tiny head. The harsh squawks of the kakas did not drown out the melodious songs of the bellbirds, but created an avant garde counterpoint. Though the walk was only about 1 magical mile, it was just a total delight.

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