Okay…..so it always gets better on the second day doesn’t it?……

Our first sessions for today began with Human-Environment Interactions. Sounds great doesn’t it? Nice and simple? Yeah I thought so too…..and then talks such as “Anthropogenic Influences on the Sedimentary Evolution of Coromandel Harbour” (Alexander Harpur), and “Testing Lessons from the Past : Using Paleoenvironmental data to define pre-human baselines at Lake Pounui, New Zealand” (Andrew Rees)……and I was starting to rock in a corner while thumb-sucking.

Despite my Long-Suffering Mentor assuring me that I was going to be okay and wasn’t, in fact, on another planet having an out-of-body experience that wasn’t altogether enjoyable, I remained dubious until morning tea rolled around and I all but ran for the scones and tea bags! It was while waiting in line for the English Breakfast that I met the lovely Dr Helen Bostock who was one of those presenters from the first day that I had been trying very hard to avoid! She assured me that even she was having trouble understanding some of the science (although I think she was just being kind and having noticed the skittishness in my eyes and the panic in my voice had sensed I was a Governor Grey’s whisker from high-tailing it back to Australia!) and advised me to just sit back and take as much in as I could.

It was when we returned to the lecture hall for session two, The Evolution of ENSO over Australasia (The WHAT?!), that I noticed my Long-Suffering Mentor was beginning to lose her voice, which at the time I found quite hilarious as she was trying to yell at me that she’d been telling me exactly the same thing that Dr. Helen had just been telling me but that I never listen to her (*continue rant – sigh!*), but after thinking about it began to worry as she was presenting an important paper on Friday and visions of ME having to present the paper for her while she gesticulated madly beside me began to form in my head! With much encouragement on my behalf to PLEASE find a pharmacy and some drugs to get her voice back, we settled in for the second sessions involving ENSO (that’s the El-Nino Southern Oscillation to all you non-climatology types!).

When I was rudely awakened at lunchtime by an elbow to the ribs (thank you Good Doctor!) I again decided to wag the afternoon poster presentation sessions and do some more sight-seeing. After walking 10,000 kilometres (slight over-exaggeration but my feet and back were KILLING me!), Long-Suffering Husband and I made it to my most favourite place in the world – the Natural Museum!

And so began a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon being lost amongst the history of New Zealand and the bones of long-lost megafauna! I was most surprised at the lack of native mammals in New Zealand (the ONLY one being a tiny bat!), but became enthralled by the Moa and the Kiwi and the beautiful native Kauri Trees.

This is a Kakapo - highly endangered but holding on by a feather!
This is a Kakapo – highly endangered but holding on by a feather!





















A Kiwi - now extinct.
A kiwi – very endangered.

The Moa was fascinating. This bird was 3 metres tall – the tallest bird known to have existed.


And then it got ever more awesome! A volcano exhibition!


This mould was created when lava surrounded a tree trunk.The burned trunk later rotted away leaving behind a perfect record of it’s shape.


Having spent four hours in the museum we limped home and collapsed, finding sustenance in leftovers and some kind of salad the Good Doctor managed to throw together. Had a small hissy fit in the bar downstairs over a Cosmopolitan trying to write my talk for Thursday. It took two more Cosmo’s to calm me down…..



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