Living World

The last cruise of Mikhail Lermontov

At dawn on the morning of February 16, 1986, the luxury Russian liner Mikhail Lermontov steamed past the bush-covered hills of Tory Channel towards Picton, on the last leg of a two-week cruise. The ship never made it out of the Marlborough Sounds. That night, she lay in 30 metres of water in Port Gore, her hull sliced open like a tin of herrings. Miraculously, all but one of her 738 passengers and crew were rescued in a Dunkirk-style operation involving dozens of vessels ranging from fishing boats to an inter-island ferry.Thirteen years on, however, suspicion still lingers around New Zealand's largest shipwreck.



Apr - Jun 1999


Admiral Butterflies

Long pathway

Tin rush

Mikhail Lermontov




Flax - the enduring fibre

With lofty flower stalks that stab the sky and leaves as broad as a waka paddle, flax, or harakeke, is one of our most striking native plants—a feature of wetland, coastline and hill country. It has also played a pivotal role in the development of New Zealand's human landscape.


Life and death among the nettles

Whether dancing above a flower or alighting to sip nectar, New Zealand's two species of admiral butterflies are a delight to watch. But other eyes watch to devour these splendid creatures, and more often than not the battle for survival goes against them. The brown soldier bug targets the caterpillars, which feed exclusively on nettle plants.

Travel & Adventure

On the metal - the tin miners of Port Pegasus

A tramper's headlamp arcs a trail through the subterranean recesses of New Zealand's southern‑most mine. The 85-metre tunnel, driven into solid granite, survives as one of a handful of relics from New Zealand's only tin rush—a stampede of ill-prepared men into the miserable weather and impenetrable scrub of southern Stewart Island.Despite high hopes and extravagant claims little metal was ever recovered.


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