Geography

Across the alps

Some 130 years after Jakob Lauper and John Whitcombe made the first nightmarish traverse from Canterbury's Rakaia River to the West Coast via Whitcombe Pass, a pair of New Zealand adventurers revisits the territory. Louper Stream, a misspelt memorial to the Swiss-born explorer, has carved a steep but, by Southern Alps standards, relatively straightforward route up to the pass from the east. Beyond the crest, difficulties multiply.

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Geography

Dunes: the waterless sea

A scything ridge of sand—very emblem of desert lands—runs into the great wilderness that is Kokota, the bull-nosed southern head of Parengarenga Harbour. The Far North is a region built on sand, much of it now cloaked with pine and pasture, but in some parts still exposed as shifting dunes: primal landforms as alluring as they are austere.

Geography

Skinks on the edge

A grand skink cuts a handsome figure in its Otago homeland, but its prospects-like those of all New Zealand's skinks-are not so attractive. Once abundant on our shores,reptiles are now hard pressed by the twin evils of predation and habitat loss. But the fightback has begun, raising hopes that these sleek, sinuous creatures may return to their haunts of old.

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