28.4.08

all roads lead here... (museum quest part 17)

Location: Picton
Baskets Left: 3

i can't get over how hard it has been to get rid of these maori artifact baskets (the containers maori peoples mystic knowledge!) for my boss ms. rhonwyn.

things had been going fine since queenstown. i'd made it all the way up here to the end of new zealand's south island. due to bad timing everything in picton was closed forcing me to harmlessly explore.

the plan was tomorrow to hit the two... that's right TWO... museums in town, maybe the aquarium too, and than catch the ferry up to the north island.

of course like always in my life it wasn't to be...

having checked out a rather dull and boring picton on ANZAC day (good excuse for it to be boring mind you... just didn't help the events that were about to unfold) i decided to head back to the hotel i was staying and enjoy some TV.


just my luck would have it the british prehistoric related show primeval was on!!! i soooooo enjoyed watching it (review coming after i've finished this whole museum quest thing), but i didn't get much further in my relaxing couch potatoing...

as the next show's teaser came on an intense wave of nausia over came me... it was an all to familiar dizziness... just like when i'd opened up one of the baskets... that could only mean one thing...

MAGIC!!!... or sorry mystic gradient radiation the scientific name for it.

i froze with fear as outside my window a strange rhythmic clicking sound grew louder.

finally it stopped. for a couple minutes, it must have been, i simple sat there listening for anymore sound. all i heard was the deep and deafening pounding of my own heart as my limbs went completely numb.

finally i was able to peel myself off the chair and creep to the giant glass doors. i couldn't see anything directly. however i could make out a shadow being cast by something just outside my field of view. cautiously i unlocked the door and poked my head out the door.

just some deck furniture... PHEW!

than suddenly from behind me a monstrous growl...

spinning around there just on the other side of my table set was whiro the maori god of darkness himself (or is it itself?)...

the fear and pounding heart came back!

we just stood there for almost a minute staring at one another... i realized this was a chance. with that furniture in between us it'd take him a few second to pursue me. i very slowly shifted my feet so i could sprint.

he just stood on watching... right when i was about to dash...

whiro launched himself at me. flinging the deck furniture out of his way! (why i thought he would respect the hotels property i'm not sure... cut me some slack though people of the innerweb i do have that tiny brain and all!).

i stumbled backward tripping over the potted plants behind me and fell onto the ground at the bottom of the stairs.


"we meet again kauwheke te kura [which when i looked it up, after the fact, means ancestor of the moa]," whiro gloated as he towered over me.

"you did an admirable job trying to hide your route across te wai pounamu [the maori name for the south island meaning place of greenstone]. yet you were all too easy to track the same. i can see you are trying to scatter the across aotearoa [maori name for all of new zealand meaning land of the long white cloud]. the only place you could be going than is te ika a maui ([the north island] meaning you had to come to this place," whiro confidently informed me.

oh man. i should have realized there was a flaw to this plan. he was right. obviously i'm making my way across the country, and unless i flew [which ms. rhonwyn informed me after the quest flying with the baskets would have been disastrous] there was no way to get across island to island than here... meaning whiro just had to come here, and wait for me!!!

"you have failed kauwheke te kura , and my victory over tane has finally arrived," whiro advanced once more towards me. his sharp jade fingers being propelled at me. "give me the and i may spare your life."

i've watched enough movies to know that evil things like him always keep to those sorts of promises... NOT!

that and knowing the legend [plus what ms.rhonwyn told me at the conclusion of the quest] that there would be dire consequences if whiro got his hands on the ultimate in mystic knowledge...

his claw infested hand came down on my shirt... the only place i have pockets, and started patting me down.

after frisking my single front pocket "where are the baskets?!?" whiro demanded... oh boy did i just luck out! i'd left the baskets in the hotel room... normally i kept them in my pocket. whiro must have detected the magic residue on my shirt...

i might still somehow get out of this i thought...

the thing is he had me trapped. i couldn't run, i couldn't hide. i wasn't even on my feet. i needed a distraction...

than it occurred to my peanut sized brain... whiro was old. not as ancient as us dinosaurs, but old none the less. he was kinda clueless and gullible when i came to the modern world.

"uh their not in my truck," i lied, and acted like i was trying not to look at the random truck parked in the lot beside us. i hoped he bought it.

he didn't move, and his literally stone cold face didn't give away what he was thinking or emoting. i decided to gamble. "their in my room. i'll get them for you."

"very well," whiro agreed... oh no!

that wasn't the plan at all. i was hoping he'd think i was trying to trick him... now i was leading him right to the baskets. if he could pick up on their having been in my pocket he was sure to detect them in my room...


i reluctantly got up, and turned towards the door with whiro at my back. what was i going to do?

than it hit me!

i slowly walked towards the door in as suspicious a manner as i could. i was rewarded with a "do not even think of trying to tricking me kauwheke te kura," whiro warned me... man if not for the fact he outdated movie stereotypes by a few thousand years i'd have sworen he was the most cliche bad guy ever.

it was now or never.

"what are you talking about?" i deceitfully asked trying to be as obvious as i could. "i wouldn't try anythi..." i suddenly veered away from the door, and sprinted towards the truck.

i made it maybe 5 steps (which considering how built for speed my juvenile tyrannosaur body is not too bad a distance for the time it took me) before from behind i was struck. whiro had taken a lightening quick swing at me, and fortunately for me hit me with his wrist as opposed to the razor sharp ends of his fingers.

i'm sure glad i hadn't planned on fighting my way out! he is superhumanly fast, and strong! i think the only reason i wasn't dead was that i was faster than he'd expected... a mistake he probably wasn't going to make again!

i fell in a heap in the middle of the parking lot...

whiro rushed to the decoy truck as planned. boy i feel kinda bad for the owner of that truck. at the same time it was life over property... granted i never did get the chance to inform the owner of how, what, and why his vehicle was trashed.

needless to say i didn't stick around to check out what whiro did. based on the noise i heard in the hotel as i popped in to grab the baskets he was doing a number on it...

with the baskets "safely" in my pocket i opted to slip out the bathroom window (on the opposite side of the hotel building from the whiro occupied parking lot)...


running through town i had a blood curdling realization with my peanut sized brain... and i'd had a lot to curdle my blood up till this point people of the innerweb!... what was i going to do???

my running had brought me in front of the picton museum. a place i needed to try to use to get rid of the baskets, but how could i? it was closed till tomorrow...

even if i could outrun whiro right now, how was i going to keep away from him standing around in a museum?!?

making my current situation all the more pressing up the block from the hotel... i'd picked a hotel close to the museums and the ferry... came a most inhuman terrifying scream. whiro had just figured out he'd been had.

there was only one option left for me...

i booked it, as fast as my ornithomimid like legs would take me, towards the waterfront.

i had to get across the straight to the north island where i could lose whiro again on the open road.

i just hoped against all hopes that these museums in picton weren't the key to disposing of the baskets... ms. rhonwyn had been quite clear i had to hit every museum and location on the list... i was about to blatantly ignore those orders...

there was no more time to think. behind me came a louder version of the clicking i'd heard outside my hotel. whiro was sprinting after me, and for a guy made of solid greenstone he was getting some pretty good speed!

how was i going to get out of this one? even if i could outrun him to the ferry, how was i going to get my ticket or wait for it without him getting me?!?


to be continued...

25.4.08

picton

Location: Picton
Baskets Left: 3

the quest to get rid of these ubber important artifact flax baskets (the containers maori peoples mystic knowledge!) goes on.

i still haven't heard from my boss ms. rhonwyn, and am still in the dark on a few things. i still haven't even seen any signs of whiro the maori god of darkness.

finally it feels like at least progress wise i've made headway (though i still haven't gotten rid of any of the baskets... i did come CLOSE a few days ago). i've covered all my stops on the south island!

meaning i've been to half of new zealand... which in and of itself is kind of a big deal!


the end of the south island is a town called picton. its not a huge place, and its spread out funny so you'd think it's even smaller than it is.

i however had lots of time to explore it as it was a national holiday called ANZAC day and everything was closed. ANZAC day is kinda like remembrance day back in canada, but it is for remembering the sacrifices of the men of the Australian New Zealand Army Corp.

once everything opened tomorrow the plan was to hit the museums in town, and if i had time the aquarium, then hop onto the ferry to the north island.

speaking of the ferry it was about the only thing open today.

the whole town was kinda built around the ferry. its the main emphasis of the harbour, and all of town leads you to said harbour.

wandering around a shut down town is kinda boring.

though a few things are both free and never stopping. like fountains!

it wasn't anything too fancy. in fact as fountains go this is pretty average, but it killed a good 30 minutes...

the coolest thing i found in town that i could do was head into the civilian harbour. you got to walk over a huge as walk way which was fun.

from up here i could see most of the waterfront. there were a lot of boats. i hadn't seen this many boats since vancouver!

new zealanders seem to owe less boats than other places i'd been in north america. in NA if there's water there's bound to be tons of boats... there are boats down here, but picton is the only place i've seen this many (non professional fishing) boats in one place or concentration.

my favourite of all the boats i saw was this one. coolest name/picture combo i've ever seen on a boat... cutest too.

the walkway itself was kinda fun. i mean look how big and curvy it is when you're standing on it!

one of the neatest restaurants in town had to be the echo. this is one of the oldest surviving ships used to transport people and goods to new zealand left. now its on dry land, and living out the rest of its days as a restaurant.

was neat to get that close to a real ship, and you know. not get wet...

i came across the local regimental club in my exploring. the place was packed for ANZAC services. i didn't want to interrupt or intrude on the event so i just checked out the old artillery gun they had out front.

it wasn't much i grant you people of the web wide world, but it was my little way of paying respect to those who were in those awful wars... sure won't want this thing shooting at me!!!

as i typically do i checked out the beach. this time i got one of my toe claws snagged on a rock which flipped over...

on the underside i found the most amazing thing...

a tiny sea slug!

i'm used to all sorts of invertebrates, but they almost always have a shell or are a worm. this a crawling moving disc of sliminess.

way too cool!

things were sooooo boring that i even started paying attention to the signage in town...

which turned out to be worth it...

including one of my favourite words for getting things done... with gusto! i always say...

my faourite sign had to be this one though!

evolve... nuff said.

into what i wonder?

i figured maybe i'd head back to the hotel and watch some TV to kill the rest of the day...

i should have guessed, i wasn't the only one heading to my hotel though...

to be continued...

18.4.08

kaikoura

Location: Kaikoura
Baskets Left: 3

i almost pulled it off people of the web wide world... i almost got rid of these maori flax baskets (the containers of all the mystic knowledge of the maori people!) while looking at the whales of kaikoura. if only my boss ms. rhonwyn could hear the good news! for the first time since it started this whole museum quest has been going alright. i haven't even seen any signs of whiro, the maori god of darkness, catching back up with me either.

since things had been going so well i figured little harm could come of my taking 30 minutes to explore (i know that while in christchurch i felt i needed to rush, but nothing bad happened when i got stopped for a bit, and i'd had something close to success this morning).


again i have to say kaikoura's whole mountains meeting the ocean thing is amazing! that and these pebble beaches they have here make the best sounds when the waves roll up and down them. if you don't believe me people of the innerweb it is highly worth the trip to check it out!

kaikoura isn't a huge place. it's sort of between town and village. they've got one main road that has most of the note worthy stuff on it.


at the highway end (furthest from whale watch) is the town's ocean front park. it's got a weird but cool concrete thing. i'm not sure what purpose the thing served, but it had a lot of steps (for not good reason) that were fun to run up and down for a couple minutes.

kaikoura kinda reminded me of drumheller. not because it had dinosaurs mind you, but rather because of how everywhere in town there are whales and dolphins (the same way drum has dinosaurs everywhere!).

half the buildings had cool murals and paintings on them of cetaceans. as whales are some of my favourite living critters i wasn't complaining.
i only have time to post the better ones. for ever mural i'm posting there was another 2 or 3 to choose from.

most depicted toothed whales (dolphins being simply mini toothed whales makes this statement true), but there was one baleen whale pic that i thought was really cool. it was the head of a humpback done life sized. you don't get an idea of how big it is compared to me from this pic, but it was huge let me assure you.

though i couldn't really get a pic of me beside this guy for the size comparison i did manage one funny photo...

i had the point of view of a whale for a second!

get it?!? ;p


i did manage to get a size comparison photo with the coolest of the murals. a life sized portrait of two adult sperm whales!

there were the same animals i'd gone to see in the morning, and it gives you an idea of how massive they were. i only saw their backs to boot! their lower jaw bone is longer than i am!!!

also just like drumheller and its dinosaurs, kaikoura has tons of whale and dolphin statues around town.


i really liked the dusky dolphin one.

the whale tails around town were abundant (sadly i could only find this one picture of them, but there were some others. i might post them once i find them on my puter). someone around town seemed to probably just make a living making statue whale tails and...

lobsters. or sorry the kiwis call them crayfish for some reason. i thought crayfish were freshwater?

anyways kaikoura has tons of lobster/crayfish in its waters, and thus like all good natural based tourist locations this is mimicked by a proportionate number of large statues of the critters in question!

(again i could only find the pics of this one crayfish statue. i know there was one more at least).

where budget limits large versions of the critter than there's always smaller artsy renditions.


the statue of kaikoura i'll remember most was this giant metal barracuda. not because it was the coolest necessarily. though don't get me wrong people of the innerweb i do really like it...

i'll remember it cause i didn't notice it at first...

walking along taking in the sights and town, what should i see when i casually look up...

the shiny metallic jaws of DEATH!!!

so like so many other times in my life i booked it out of there!

oh well it was just as well. i need to push on in the quest. i was about to the hit the end of the south island, and from there push on to the north island. land of new zealand's native dinosaurs...

to be continued...


(Production Note: Be sure to check out the latest behind the scenes and preview of an upcoming visitor to the Tyrannosaur Chronicles on our production site.)

13.4.08

admiral there be whales here! (museum quest part 16)

Location: Kaikoura
Baskets Left: 3
now with all the confusion and unpleasantness of christchurch out of the way, i need to get back to the safe disposal of these flax baskets (the containers of all the mystic knowledge of the maori people!). i really wish i'd hear from my boss ms. rhonwyn again cause i've got problems. the biggest of which is of course whiro, the maori god of darkness whose been chasing me along my quest.

another problem that is getting worse and worse is the baskets aren't going! ms. rhonwyn said they were supposed to detect or react with the mana of the places i've been going and go away... (i've figured out that mana means possessor of great power, authority or prestige... it can either be a person, place or thing that possesses these meaning it could be anything on my journeys that has it)... so far it hasn't been working, and i'd like to know why or what i'm doing wrong...

despite this "the quest must go on"... or was that show... oh well.


so i pushed through the night to get to the next town on the list. kaikoura. man oh man driving here in the dark is NOT fun let me tell you!

the road was really really windy and scary. there was a bit where it was switch back through mountains and than times you were RIGHT beside the ocean... as in if you went off the road you'd be in the water... and times a mix of the two where you'd drive through tunnels through the mountain as it went into the ocean... and boy those tunnels are narrow a semi in front of me knocked off some rock that almost hit my car!!!

the only plus i didn't have anytime to kill in town that night. i could just sleep and get up early to hit my next destination first thing.

where the trip here at night was nightmarishly chaotic; the morning was pleasantly tranquil.

the sun rose beautifully over a tranquil sea.

though i didn't know it in the dark i'd parked the car right beside one of the many beaches of kaikoura. what a calming beach it was too. with every wave that came in it'd push and drag the millions of rounded stones and pebbles of the beach making the most amazing noise.

video

here's a sample i tried to video with my camera. sadly due to the slight breeze (which sounds like a hurricane on my camera's pathetic mic) you can only really hear the stone noise after the second BIG wave. listen carefully after that one comes in!

i also have to say this whole where the mountains meets the ocean thing is nothing short of amazing!

i'd only seen the place for 5 minutes (with light), and i loved it already...

walking up to the next joint ms. rhonwyn wanted me to check out i could tell i was going to love it more!

again not every place on list was a museum. just places that had stuff important to maori people OR places important to them.

this establishment called whale watch was going to take me to something very important to the maori people... bet you can't guess what they were ;p

the bundle of maps, lists, passes, and tickets ms. rhonwyn equipped me with at the start of this whole quest made my getting onto a boat tour "easy peasy" (kiwi's like to make saying easy longer for some reason).

before i knew it i'd been led down to the dock where we boarded the boat.

just like that we were on our way. this particular boat was a modern age uh... cat-her-mir-man... er double hulled boat. which meant it was real floaty, and fast.

did i mention fast?



due to the extra float brought with the extra hull the boat was bouncy. i'd never been on a boat that bounced before. it did something really weird to my stomach... hopefully the tour guides don't notice what i did to the paper bag that was in the pouch in front of me...

despite that badness brought by the bounce and the fast it had an upside (kinda like driving here in the dark). it was over quick. we'd headed out a few kilometres on the water. getting outside the cabin and into the fresh air was a relief!

so why were we here exactly?

turns out kaikoura is one of the few places on earth where the continental shelf is RIGHT off continental land. basically what that means is that kaikoura is basically on the edge of a giant cliff down to the very bottom of the sea.

meaning that this small marine town has just off-shore some very unique sea life that usually doesn't occur anywhere near land...


the captain of the boat brought out a fancy contraption which she lowered into the water. based on the ear phones on her head, and the fact we were here to look for whales i guessed it was a sonar detector...

and you know what... i was right! i love it when i know stuff... doesn't happen often with a brain the size of a peanut.

the captain was pleased with what she was hearing.

a minute or two later i spotted why... one of the nice things about being a direct relative of birds. i've got pretty awesome eyesight!

"there she blows!" i hollered. that's sailor speak for seeing a whale... and right about now people of the webwide world you're asking how does traumador the peanut brained dinosaur know so much about mammalian whales...

well, if there's one type of modern animal i know something about it's whales. their one of the few modern mammals that give us dinosaurs a run for our money on size... technically they have us beat the whales. a few sauropods (long necked dinosaurs) are longer than whales. in fact one sauropod might be a LOT longer, but the whales make up for their "shorter" length by weighing as much several sauropods.

because they are so often compared to us dinos, back when i was with the tyrrell, i decided to be get myself in the know about whales. naturally as they live in the water, which i think is one of the coolest places something can live, i got hooked on know how about them.

the really cool thing though about this day people of the innerweb... it was the first time i'd ever seen a real one before!!! (well okay apart from dolphins)

the boat closed with our massive aquatic friend (note how big it is compared to the boat, and we were only seeing its back. the tail was underwater!). i could tell this was going to be awesome... so even though i'd never seen a whale i'd read plenty of books on them... my favourite type of book to read (especially considering we only discovered i could read just over a year ago!) are of course picture books...

having gone over lots of photos and drawings in books i was starting to come to a guess. if the whale had dove right than i'd have been sure (a lot of the better whale books have pics of how the different whales dive... it's a great IDing trick you can try next time you go whale watching!).

i was going to guess sperm whale... based on the size and more importantly the blow hole being on the front and the ridged triangular lump (not fin mind you lump) on the back.

next thing you know the tour guide declared this to be... drum roll please... sperm whale. so i guess if my dream of becoming a palaeontologist doesn't pan out i can always shot for marine biologist.

so here's what i know about sperm whales. their giant relatives of dolphins and beaked whales which all form the toothed whale family (the most primitive and long lasting group of whales). they are the largest toothed animals alive today which makes them the largest predatory animal as well. they make their living by diving really deep (in fact the deepest known of any non fish vertebrate) to hunt for squid and fish.

the guide informed us that kaikoura is home to between 8-10 permanent bull sperm whales that live here year round. they spend their time solitary, and don't hang out with each other. due to the colder climate more sociable female pods don't come down here often.

now here came the bit where i was most interested. this area was particularly well known and sacred to the maori...

the maori people being maritimer settlers to this land still had considerable ties to the ocean and the resources it provided. one of the most vital of which was whale bones.

if a whale was caught or found to have washed ashore it was a great prize to the iwi or tribe who came to possess it. it would fed a village for weeks, and more important it provided a bounty of ivory.

the maori used this for any number of tools and products as whale bone was sturdy, durable, and most important carvable.

among the most prized of all whales were the sperm whale as they not only had bones but giant sharp teeth in their lower jaw (sperm whales don't have teeth in their upper jaw). these teeth were prized for their use as cutting implements in both domestic as well as warfare tools, and also as use for jewelry and art.

as kaikoura was the only place in new zealand where sperm whales were easily accessible by land, and most likely to wash up this place became renowned even in those long ago days for its special inhabitants.

after several minutes of resting at the surface catching its breath the whale (it'd been diving for a long time before we caught up with it, sperm whales can hold their breath for an hour and half! though this guy probably was only under for a "mere" 30-45 minutes!) prepared to head back down for more food...

as the iconic and majestic sight of the whale's tail diving unfolded in front of me the strangest thing happened...

suddenly my shirt pocket (which interestingly happened to contain the kete o te wananga) heated up as though someone had turned on an instamatic furnace in my shirt. i was suddenly overcome with the worst dizziness i've ever had... well at least since i opened one of the baskets back at pearl harbour...

i could... this is going to sound weird... feel mana of the whale and its connection to the maori's past.

was this what i'd been waiting for?!?

were the baskets picking up the whale's "magic"?

just as the dizziness seemed to hit its climax i went from feeling the magic to... for just a moment... seeing it! the whale was surrounded by... well magic.

than suddenly i was interrupted by a rude german tourist who pushed me aside for my spot (which i point out i'd have been happy to share had she asked) to snap a photo....

i felt instantly normal. abruptly all of it: the dizziness, hot pocket, and cetacean light show all turned off as if by a switch. this girl had gotten between me and the... well... mana... meaning the baskets were all still here!!!

angrily i growled at her, and looking down at me she screamed in frieght realizing she'd not pushed aside a child as she'd thought, but rather a fairly ticked off midget tyrannosaur! i snapped at her viciously... luckily missing her by mere centimetres... what was that all about. i didn't mean to get that angry. it felt like one of my dormant tyrannosaur instincts kicking in... have to watch those.

fortunately the german girl ran to the other side of the viewing deck. where i point out she stayed!

unfortunately it was too late. the whale disappeared into the deep, and with it i fear so did the mana...

i won't lie to you people of the innerweb i was devastated...

unlike so many other times in my life things didn't get worse... if anything it was as though kaikoura the place sensed my dampened spirits and rallied together a cheer up package for me.

as we made our way back to port a giant albatross fly by. now of course i'd seen a lot of albatross back in dunedin already, but to see one on the open ocean was amazing.

i came out of my brooding watching it soar over the waves with its two metre wingspan.

a few minutes later out of the corner of my eye... again remember i have a hunter's eyes... i spotted a shadow moving fast towards the boat...

as it darted under the boat another and than another flew towards and than under the boat!

what could these be i wondered... my keen cetacean knowledge put on hold while due to my failed basket attempt.

that is till several animals broke the surface revealing clearly defined dorsal fins... there was no question... dolphins!


now if i like whales, than i LOVE dolphins. especially after making friends with one back at the vancouver aquarium.

as one came into perfect view i was amazed to see these were the same type as spinnaker (the dolphin from vancouver) a pacific white side dolphin!


here's where i made a whale related mistake. the tour guide declared these to be dusky dolphins... which makes way too much sense. pacific white sided dolphins occur in the northren hemiosphere of the globe where dusky's are their southren version.


seeing these guys in the wild was so many levels above cool!



there was a lot of dolphins too...

by lots i mean LOTS... more than a hundred (if you look real close in this photo you can see over 20 surfacing in the distance)... the guide told us anywhere between 200-500 make their home here around kaikoura... holy smokes!

that concluded this fruitless but awesome chapter of the museum quest.

this stop proved one thing though. the baskets were trying go. they just needed the right tigger. they also needed for the "reaction" to go uninterrupted.

well easy enough i thought to myself from here on in every stop i'm making sure that i give them the chance they need... if only the universe was on the same page as me...

to be continued...