Talk of smells turns to Rotorua

The historic wooden bus stop shelter at Maori Hill has been repaired after being crashed into, but ironically no buses serve the stop after bus routes were changed recently. Could this be the answer to the Otago Regional Council's prayers for more office
The historic wooden bus stop shelter at Maori Hill has been repaired after being crashed into, but ironically no buses serve the stop after bus routes were changed recently. Could this be the answer to the Otago Regional Council's prayers for more office space? Photo: Peter Dowden
I suppose it was only a matter of time before Rotorua featured in readers' recollections of unforgettable smells.

Rotorua is a great place to visit, with lots to see and do. One of my regrets is we never took our boys there when they were younger, but the cost for five of us from Christchurch for a long weekend was going to be massive.

Anyway, back to the smell. I remember flying in for work a few years back and being amazed at the rotten eggs stench leaking into the cabin as the plane descended over Whakarewarewa towards the airport.

Trevor Norton of Temuka, who was previously a Railways Road Services driver based in Sulphur City, has written in with a memory of its aromatic delights.

''Rotorua is sometimes known by a nickname or two, usually something to do with the hydrogen sulphide gas that permeates the atmosphere.

''When one spends half a day or more there, the smell becomes unnoticeable, except in certain specific areas of the town.

''Coming into town from the south, one travels past the entrance to Waipa Mill, then through the Hemo Gorge, which opens out into one of the main thermal areas that includes Whakarewarewa. It is when entering the gorge that one may first encounter the smell.

This proves that air moves just like water. Trevor Douglas spotted these atmospheric breaking waves just offshore of St Clair beach in October 2015 from John Wilson Ocean Dr. Photo: Trevor Douglas
This proves that air moves just like water. Trevor Douglas spotted these atmospheric breaking waves just offshore of St Clair beach in October 2015 from John Wilson Ocean Dr. Photo: Trevor Douglas
''A Railways coach from Wellington was going through the gorge, about six minutes from the end of its run. A little boy, perhaps about 8 or 10 years old, sitting midway down the coach jumped out of his seat and stood in the aisle facing towards the rear seats.

'''It was one of you! I know! It's one of you,' he exclaimed, pointing to the people in their seats.

''They were mystified about the outburst. He kept on accusing them of something, as though he wanted one of them to admit their guilt.

'''All right,' he says. 'Which one of you farted?'.

''That brought out the smiles, and gave the passengers their welcome to Stink City.''

Bird cards

Nick Loughnan of Galloway says he has enjoyed all the bird snippets and discovering how others appreciate the different species around their homes.

''I've long had a fascination for them and, as a little kid in the early 1960s, I used to collect the New Zealand bird cards that came out of the Gregg's jelly packets. Yes, Dunedin's own Gregg's!

''Keen collectors could send off for an album to stick them in, which came with a paragraph about each bird. And there were different series of the birds to collect. Native birds and sea birds were ones I remember.

''So I was always ripping into a pack and making a jelly for pudding each night until I had the album filled.''

I bet you weren't the only one, Nick.

Can anyone else recall these cards? Does anyone have any photos of them?

Nick says Central Otago has a number of transient species and the region is popular for breeding.

''Among the first returning migratory birds that herald our spring are the rowdy Australian plovers and the closely paired oystercatchers. But possibly the most unpopular bird at that time are starlings.

Winter storm clouds building over the Ida Valley on June 24. Photo: John Whitaker
Winter storm clouds building over the Ida Valley on June 24. Photo: John Whitaker
''When they decide it's nesting time, they are relentless in dragging in all sorts of material to build the most untidy nest known to birds. And any place except in trees will do - open chimney flues, under gaps in roofing material, inside farm sheds and, most annoyingly for farmers, under tractor bonnets.

''They can cart in large amounts of straw in a short space of time and have been responsible for many burnt-out tractors, caused by the dry straw next to tractor manifolds catching fire.

''The large mobs of them are common here in autumn and they do a great job in pastures that have been hit with grass grub. But their numbers here thin out during the coldest part of winter.

''Starlings are also excellent mimics, and put on a collective display of calls, usually sitting in big groups on power lines as they gather up to breed in spring. Amongst the sounds of their chattering calls, I often hear the unmistakable mimic of a lone seagull's coastal call. Perhaps some of our starlings are spending the coldest winter weeks out on the more temperate coasts?

''The small red-billed gulls used to be a common sight inland, following tractor ploughs in big numbers. That practice is largely disappearing as the use of herbicide sprays and direct drilling of seed has taken over from traditional forms of soil cultivation. It is now just the opportunist larger black-backed gulls that turn up during lambing to scavenge.

''It's surprising just how quickly birds appear when their favourite feed source is plentiful.''

Central Otago 2050

Remember, I'm after your thoughts of what Central will look like in the middle of the century.

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