Welcome to 3moreporkabovemytent!
We are Neil and Sharlene. Originally from Scotland, Neil has a background as a Registered Nurse, with experience in management and sales. He has lived in New Zealand for over 15 years. Sharlene is a Kiwi and initially trained as a commercial airplane pilot before becoming an accountant.
Neil and Sharlene have a shared passion for walking in the outdoors. And when we say outdoors, we don’t mean the local park. There is almost nothing to beat that rush of excitement as you plan a trip up the mountains, anticipating the views and the challenges, and the satisfaction of having achieved your goal as you gaze out over the view nursing a cuppa. Whether it is a single day walk, or a weekend, or even several months as in the case of the Te Araroa, it can be done. All you have to do is take the first steps and get off the couch…
Around the world there are certain animals that we associate with specific areas. Often they conjure up romantic notions of wilderness, danger and nature in the raw. Just imagine camping out overnight listening to them, straining your ears at every rustle of the grass and bushes outside… For example, the howl of the timber wolf and roar of the bears in North America and the distinctive rattle of a rattlesnake from further south, the cough of the male lion on the African plains, the King cobra, Black widow spiders, saltwater crocodiles… The list goes on and we are sure that you will be able add your own favourites.
And then there’s New Zealand.
We have Kea, and Morepork, and Magpies…
Of course, we also have Great White sharks, Mako sharks and Blue sharks, Humpback whales and Sperm whales and Orcas all visiting our shores on a regular and semi-permanent basis.. But they all prefer to remain in the oceans and are unlikely to evolve onto land in our lifetime. Meanwhile, back on terra firma…
Magpies are usually found in semi-rural and urban surroundings in our experience. At least, we don’t recollect seeing any up in the mountains. Magpies are extremely dangerous physically, and financially, if you are displaying anything shiny that they think would make an attractive addition to improve the amorous atmosphere of their nest. It doesn’t matter if it is still attached to you, as in the case of your diamond ring, or perched on your head as in your sunglasses. Flaunt it and lose it… You have been warned. (And good luck trying to explain it to your travel insurance company by the way. “Yes, it was a magpie that stole my $20,000 sunglasses. Right off my head. In broad daylight. Who knew birds could be such rogues and thieves..?”.)
Kea are a special case. Not only are they the world’s largest and strongest parrot, they are also only found in the rugged, alpine mountain regions of the South Island. (Which means that they are also endangered.) They are also smart and in some areas have associated humans with food sources. Of course that might mean them having to attempt to disassemble your mode of transport in order to find the food inside, but that’s only a few minutes work. Or open your rucksack,or rip open your tent, or divest you of your coat… we’re sure you’re getting the picture. Apparently when left to their own devices without interference, they eat berries… Go figure.
And so to the Morepork owl… Found in woodland in both the wilderness and semi-agricultural areas, Morepork are apex predators that feed off bugs and small animals such as mice. Usually most active at dusk and dawn, they often call out with a distinctive repetitive cry of “More–Pork…, More–Pork…, More–Pork…” (Pronounced as Morrrr Porrrk.)
Neil had never heard a Morepork before traversing the great forests of Northland during our Te Araroa trip. These forests can take a couple of days to get through. One night shortly after entering, we set up in a clearing just off the trail and he lay awake listening to several distinct Morepork apparently discussing us camped out beneath their meeting tree. And they discussed us for hours. Several hours. All night in fact.
And he’s never been the same since. He’s become fascinated by them.
Folklore around the world, including New Zealand, associate owls with wisdom and knowledge, of being spiritual guardians and protectors, and symbols of mortality, both birth and death.
We have chosen three Morepork to as a tribute to that night and to represent the areas of wisdom, guardianship and respect for Nature. As we travel around New Zealand, we look forward to sharing our some of our adventures with our readers.
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