Invercargill is the most southern and western major centre in New Zealand. At 50,000 people, it's a bit less than half Dunedin's population of 115,000.
The thing that struck me about Invercargill is that it is FLAT. When there, you would be forgiven if you thought you were in a prairie town, grid streets and all. In Dunedin you would be either going uphill or downhill. There is no "flat."
We stayed at a really nice motel - argueably the nicest accomodation of the trip. We found they have a pleasant custom of walking you to your room with a pint of milk for your morning tea. We stayed at the Tower Lodge right across from the water tower shown in the previous posting.
New Zealand is home to a "living fossil" - the tuatara.
The tuatara is only found in New Zealand and is in danger of becoming extinct! It is a reptile but not a lizard. It is the last remaining member of the ancient group of reptiles, Sphenodontia. Tuatara is a Maori word meaning "peaks on the back". It is easy to see why. The tuatara is famous because it is a very ancient – it is the only survivor of a large group of reptiles that roamed the earth at the same time as dinosaurs. It hasn't changed its form much in over 225 million years! The relatives of tuatara died out about 60 million years ago which is why the tuatara is sometimes called a ‘living fossil’ - cool.
Naturally, with Craig along, we HAD to go see the tuataras housed at the Museum.
This one is not real - it's about four feet long.
These are the real ones. There were a couple of adults and a few younger ones. They look just like the four foot statue! But they are shorter - the adults we saw looked about 18 - 20 inches, the younger ones were half that.
Another tuatara website.
There is also a botanical garden and an aviary in Invercargill, hence the following pix.
We left Invercargill late in the morning and proceeded further south. We were so close, we decided we should go to Bluff, which is THE most southerly point you can get to on the South Island. I expect it's the furthest south on the planet that I shall ever be. Joe too, since we usually go together. Can't speak for Craig.
The Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter is located at Bluff.
At the southern tip of South Island is a large aluminum smelter which processes bauxite from Queensland using power from nearby hydroelectric stations. The output from this smelter accounted for 4.2 percent of exports in 1999.(from http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Asia-and-the-Pacific/New-Zealand.html )
To make aluminum, aside from the bauxite, a lot of electricity is needed. We were able to tour the impressive hydro electric facility referenced above - this will be featured on another day's post - stay tuned. And given that the aluminum production comprises 4.2 % of exports, it is also useful that the smelter is situated at a port site.
Mary and Craig.
Joe and Craig.
This was taken from the Bluff lookout.
Lookout again, with Stewart Island in the distance.
If you look closely on the top of the ridge of the hills, you can see some wind turbines. We saw wind farms in a number of places throughout our travels. Our experience suggests that New Zealand certainly has the potential to develop a significant amount of wind power - it was very often windy!
At the end of 2006 the total installed and operational capacity of wind turbines in New Zealand was 170.8 mega watts (MW). According to Ministry of Economic Development data in 2006 these turbines produced 617 GWh of electricity, or around 1.5% of New Zealand’s total electricity generation. This is enough electricity to provide for the annual requirements of around 77,000 typical households.
151 MW of new capacity has been installed during 2007, nearly doubling the total installed capacity in New Zealand to 321.8 MW. While this will lead to a proportionate increase in the amount of electricity generation from wind power the percentage share is unlikely to rise as 385 MW of new gas-fired generation has also been installed this year (E3P at Huntly).
At the start of 2004 the total installed wind generation capacity was just 36.3 MW, so this total has increased by a factor of nearly 10 times in the last 4 years. Most of this growth occurred in 2004 and 2007.
While wind energy’s growth in NZ has been highly variable (i.e. little growth in 2005 and 2006 and only modest growth forecast for 2008) the industry has ‘taken off” internationally. The total worldwide capacity has grown at a compound rate of around 25% per year for the past six years. The global total is now over 70,000 MW, leaving New Zealand (at less than 0.5% of the total) some way behind the installed capacity for other developed countries. In 2006 over 15,000 MW of new wind energy capacity was installed worldwide. This is nearly twice NZ’s total capacity from all sources.