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Pond at Spencer Beach
Pond at Spencer Beach

Spencer Beach, on the northern outskirts of Christchurch, was our first overnight stop in our rented camper van. We didn’t have the most restful night, as around 4am an air raid siren started up nearby. When you’re pretty much at sea level, in an area which has had one major earthquake and numerous aftershocks in recent months, the first thought that tends to pop into your head at times like this is “tsunami warning”. Luckily I knew from spending time in the USA that some volunteer fire departments use the sirens as a muster call, so after checking that none of the neighbouring campers were packing up and heading for the hills and there were no warnings on the local radio stations we managed to go back to sleep.

In the morning we walked out through the dunes to the beach. This was our first real taste of New Zealand outside the urban areas, and our first view of the impressive New Zealand Flax. In the dune slacks we found a pond, with a family of Paradise Shelduck (based on our experiences every pond in New Zealand has a family of Paradise Shelduck!). Amongst the rushes and horsetails, frogs were croaking. Apparently all the endemic frog species live away from water and don’t croak, so I have no idea what species these are – any suggestions are welcome! You can also hear introduced Redpoll and Chaffinch in this recording.

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