Segways and the world’s shortest beaks

Segway in Queenstown.
Segway in Queenstown.

I really believe that a Segway may be the best way to tour a town. The combination of being fun and smooth and fast and just downright cool is unbeatable.

We spent two hours tooling around Queenstown on Segways. We didn’t really see much more than we have on foot but it was just such fun, especially as we got to go at higher speeds as the built-in speed limiters were removed.

One of the particularly cool things about the Segway is that the kids can go at exactly the same speed we can and with the same effort, and yet be independent. Walking or riding provides the independence, but we’re always faster or find it easier. In a car or bus there’s no independence. Segways are the perfect fit.

It turns out New Zealand has very few rules regarding Segways so they can go on public footpaths and roads. That meant the only real limitation in zooming around Queenstown was watching out for pedestrians. It was interesting to see all those pedestrians smile as we slid past; all those smiles added to our own made for a very enjoyable morning.

Tuatara.
Tuatara.

Now for a quiz. Which bird has the shortest beak in the World? Turns out it’s the kiwi. A beak is technically measured from the bird’s nostrils to the end of the beak – and the kiwi is the only bird to have its nostrils at the end of its beak. New Zealand birdlife is full of strange anomalies like that as we found out on our visit to the Kiwi Birdlife Park. Apart from seeing kiwis we also got up close and personal with the tuatara the “living dinosaur”. The ‘living dinosaur’ thing is a bit ironic given the birds in NZ have probably got a far better claim to that appellation.

We also learnt again about the absolute devastation being wrought by imported birds and animals in this environment. The local fauna just can’t compete; and even the flora was designed to work with the fauna and so it is being wiped out too. New Zealand is in a very precarious position. We were happy to have seen some of the birds on display in the wild while on the Milford Track. In a few more years it may only be possible to see them in zoos.

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