It's a funny thing - it feels like we've been in New Zealand for quite a long time, and Australia seems well in the past. But this is only our fifth night in this new country.
Our ignorance of New Zealand is astounding. We don't know what party is in government. We don't know the exchange rate. We haven't read a newspaper. We haven't even spoken with all that many New Zealanders. We've just sort of retreated into our family life and a routine of home school, moving the boat from here to there, and bush walks ashore on the great tracks that we have stumbled on.
We're at Stewart Island, which is just south of the South Island, and which I think is one of the jewels of En Zed. But we know nothing about the place, save a chance mention from a friend that Port Pegasus is meant to be pretty worthwhile. When we're ashore we're astounded by the new birds we see. But of course we haven't got a field guide to identify them. We didn't get anything like that before leaving Tasmania, and Bluff wasn't very forthcoming with guidebooks and such. There was no bird field guide to be had in the town, and when I asked at the library if they had a copy of the Stewart Island cruising guide, I was advised that the best way to gather information might be to go to the pub and chat up fishermen.
The plus side of our ignorance, if there is one, is that we are free to discover the place for ourselves. No preconceived notions and received opinions for us! This must be some sort of pure travel, where the onus for discovery is squarely on us.
Months from now, reading a book somewhere in the more populous middle of the country, I can picture myself learning about some remarkable feature of the natural history of Stewart Island, and realizing how close we were to seeing it for ourselves...
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