Magazine

ISSUE 041

Jan - Mar 1999

Antarctic huts

Aerial photography

Te Araroa

Alpine Fault

Takahe

Biographical dictionary

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Geography

Harold Wellman and the Alpine Fault

Drenching rain, lush forests, rivers that regularly inundate the land, even sandflies and that fierce human independence bred by isolation—all that is the West Coast can be traced ultimately to the towering presence of the Southern Alps. Yet from a geological perspective these mountains are mere outward symptoms of greater things happening beneath the ground, where two of the world's tectonic plates collide along one of Earth's greatest fault lines, dubbed the Alpine Fault. Geologists Harold Wellman was the first to recognise this vast structure, a discovery that helped revolutionise the way we see the Earth.

Geography

Takahe – the bird that came back from the dead

When Dr Walter Mantell formally described a large, attractively-plumaged new species of rail in 1851 from only the second specimen captured, he wrote: "It is unlikely that any further living specimens will be found." Indeed, only two further individuals were taken last century, and the bird was officially considered extinct for 50 years—until an Invercargill GP filmed birds in Fiordland in 1948. Yet despite 50 years of careful management since, the species is probably scarcer now than when it was rediscovered.

History

Timeless huts, priceless heritage

The explorers who set out to conquer Antarctica at the beginning of this century didn't know that it was the highest, coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth—just that it was the last great frontier, and likely to test the mettle of any man coura­geous (or foolhardy) enough to venture upon its icy domain. When horses and dogs died and machinery froze up, or the ice just got too rough, men settled into the traces—as here, during Scott's push for the Pole. Bare wooden huts, shuttered and wired to the ground, were their havens from the unforgiving elements. Today the three that were erected on Ross Island offer mute testimony to this age of heroism.

Travel & Adventure

The long pathway

I patted a Buttress on that stout little tub of concrete, the Cape Reinga light­house, and moved off. It was just coming on light—time to go. Miriam and I walked up the hill to the collection of huts at the top. We stopped at the beginning of the trail that leads away behind the loos, the post office and the generator hut. The sign said:

Thanks, you're good to go!

Thanks, you're good to go!

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