Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sandfly scandal!

New Zealand is generally a very hassle-free place to enjoy the wilderness. There are no bears, no snakes, nothing poisonous or man-eating lurking in the woods. The only wildlife you're likely to hear Kiwis (and visitors) complain about is the sand flies. These nasty little monsters are bloodthirsty and bite with a vengeance!

When I first encountered sand flies in New Zealand, I thought they were very similar to the black flies in Canada. Same tiny size, same vicious bite, same way of swarming around and making you absolutely crazy!

Today I found out, to my complete lack of surprise, that in fact the sand flies in New Zealand ARE black flies, and not really sand flies at all! Turns out they've been called by the wrong name for so long that nobody can be bothered to correct it. But it certainly explains the similarities.

We were thoroughly ravaged by these little pests when we arrived in Nelson Lakes National Park on Saturday. They were enjoying the smorgasbord all around the campground and lake. It was annoying enough to have us dashing for the tent after a short walk around the area.

Luckily, we were leaving on our first tramp the next morning. And once you get away from the more populated spots, the flies do tend to thin out a bit.

We stocked up on bug repellent for this trip, knowing that the sand flies are more of a problem on the South Island than they are near us in Wellington. Seems that was a good move. So far G has suffered more bites than I have, but I'm not sure that there's any way to avoid it completely.

Anyway, I'll post again about our actual tramp when I get a chance. Meanwhile, we've already left Nelson Lakes and made our way to the West Coast. Currently we're in Franz Josef, a small town built mainly for tourists to visit the nearby glacier. The forecast for tomorrow is rainy, but we're still hoping to do a day hike. Since we've both done the glacier hike before, we won't be paying the steep fees for that, instead we'll be walking in the bush and hopefully ending up near the glacier terminus. Hopefully it won't be so cloudy that we can't see the glacier. It's hard to say.

And on a final note - Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you bought your loved one a copy of "Sex in a Tent".


Winter said...

Ha! Great blog, going to look for your book here in the States...

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