Thursday, February 16, 2012

The drive to Te Anau

Our destination on Wednesday afternoon is Te Anua, a few hours drive from Queenstown. Mark again takes the driver’s seat, and I settle into the backseat. It’s lights-out time again for me – that tiny Bonine pill has totally wiped me out. But we stop a few times on the highway for some photos. As we head further into Fiordland, the landscapes become increasingly more dramatic: towering mountain tops, lush green fields, and pastures filled with hundreds of sheep and deer.

According to "Straying from the Flock: Travels in New Zealand", a book by Alexander Elder that Peter is reading: "The value of farmland is valued in livestock units, which shows how many animals it can support. A sheep is one livestock unit, cattle five or six, deer two. A paddock big enough for 100 sheep can be used for 20 cows or 50 deer..."

The book says deer are not native to New Zealand, but were brought in from Europe in the 1880s, but became pests when they over produced. In the 1970s, local farmers figured out a way to capture the deer and breed them in captivity. The animals were valued for their meat, but also their horns, prized in Asia for their supposed aphrodisiac qualities.

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