History

The hard road

The tourism potential of Fiordland's Milford Sound was recognised in the late 1800s. The problem was getting there. Pushing a road across the Main Divide was feasible, but between the headwaters of the Hollyford and Cleddau valleys was an almost-sheer 500 metre granite wall. The Homer Tunnel, 20 years in the making, provided the solution, and today visitors emerging from the Cleddau portal descend a sealed slalom that offers few clues as to the difficulty of building or maintaining a road in such precipitous country.

Magazine

ISSUE 055

Jan - Feb 2002

Hauturu

Piha lifeguards

Milford road

Deep-sea science

Fantails

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Science & Environment

Hauturu – Resting Place of the Wind

Mountainous, densely forested and bounded by cliffs and boulders,Little Barrier Island (Hauturu) crouches in the outer reaches of the Hauraki Gulf, a relic of a wild New Zealand now largely vanished. Set aside as a nature reserve over a century ago, the island houses a matchless cargo of wildlife inhabiting an unusual diversity of forest types.

Society

The life patrol

Powerful waves, jagged rocks, black sand and spectacular scenery. Piha, on Auckland's west coast, is a magnet for beachgoers with a taste for the dramatic. But the currents are treacherous, and each year 200 swimmers owe their lives to the vigilance and courage of Piha's lifeguards.

Science & Environment

Probing the Deep

Two-thirds of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, with an average depth of nearly four kilometres—making deep-ocean seafloor the commonest environment on our planet. Through our vast extended economic zone, New Zealand controls a disproportionately large slice of that mysterious terrain. What is down there? Scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research have the job of finding out. In September 2001, they took their equipment—including a bottom lander, here being hoisted over the side of the research vessel Tangaroa—to the Chatham Rise, one of our most important deep-sea fishing areas.

Living World

Silence of the Fantails

The fantail is one of our commonest native birds, loved for its flamboyant tail, acrobatic flight and inquisitive friendliness. Yet life is no bed of roses for these charming little birds. Between August and February each year they pour their energy into reproduction, only to have almost all of their infant offspring devoured by rats and other predators.

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