I am in New Zealand! I can scarcely believe it myself. I am so glad I decided to take the risk, and, indeed, the plunge. This is, I hope, a new opportunity.
My arrival here was not, of course, achieved in any straightforward manner. First there was the trek through the forest, where every rustle and cracking stick had me jumping in terror. But I do not believe I was followed. After a night and a day of gruelling journeying, where fearsome beasts haunted my dreams and cruel stones tormented my feet, I reached the shore of the sea that lay between me and New Zealand. And there, like early travellers – and all flightless animals – I faced a problem. How on earth (or indeed in the air or on the water) would I cross that sea?
My mind whirred but my body ached and my legs would carry me no further. I slumped down into undergrowth by the beach and slept. When I awoke, the sun was high in the sky and my energy levels were themselves raised once I had nibbled on a few of my remaining biscuits. I hoped there would be ginger biscuits in New Zealand. I lay considering my plight and listening to the seagulls who called to each other as they wheeled and danced above the water. One of them swooped down low and it was then that I noticed a group of humans apparently standing on waves. As these humans raced towards the beach, I saw that they were in fact standing on boards of some kind. I have since been told that the correct name for these boards is surfboards.
It looked rather enjoyable and, it seemed, rather useful. Surely it would be possible to ride a board such as this to New Zealand. After all, if a human could stand on one, no doubt a dodo could too.
This might have been the moment to have realised two flaws in the plan:
1, I did not have a surfboard;
2, The humans using surfboards were being taken back by the waves onto the beach in Tasmania, not out to sea towards New Zealand.
But somehow, watching the humans and hearing them shriek with excitement, these flaws did not occur to me. In fact, number one flaw was overcome later that evening when I was checking what the humans had left on the beach – I hate to see a beach littered with rubbish. They had forgotten the remains of a picnic, but the gulls seemed to believe that said picnic had been reserved for them. In any case, the sandwiches contained meat and I am a vegetarian.
But the humans had left something else behind. Propped up against a rock was a surf board.
My problem had been solved.
There was a potential third flaw in the plan that I perhaps should have thought of – could I swim? I had never had the need to try before.
Nevertheless, I settled down for the night with a more joyful heart, ready to take to the waters at first light, before the surfers returned.
I slept fitfully and was grateful when dawn broke. What a beautiful morning! The sky was pink and the colour seemed to wash over the water. I whistled a little tune as I hauled the board towards the water (actually I puffed a little as well as whistled).
Potential flaw four – could I stand up and balance on the board?
It took me many attempts to stand up. When I finally did, I came across plan flaws numbers two and three – I came crashing back towards the beach with the surfboard somewhere over my head and my beak full of water as I struggled to swim.
I plumped myself down heavily on the sand and stared out to sea. Could I paddle to New Zealand? I doubted it. I had looked at the map, it was too far. I hung my head in despair scarcely noticing the sounds of the sea and the cries of the gulls.
“Eee-yup!” The gulls calls were loud now. Very loud. I looked up to see a large gull hovering above me. It was a giant, the largest I could recall ever seeing. It swooped down low over the water and skimmed to a halt a short distance from me. I backed a little, suddenly alarmed by the glint in its piercing eyes. This really was a very big gull.
“It’s you, isn’t it?” The gull’s voice was harsh and grating. “You dodo boy with your silly wings?”
“C-can I help you?” I stuttered.
“Well, it seems to me that you and your blogging habits have brought a little too much attention to this fine place,” grated the gull. “There’s some mad man with a lot of hair wandering around in the bush looking for you and we don’t like it.”
“I am so sorry. I didn’t mean….” I trailed off. He was right. I had caused trouble and all for nothing.
“Yeah, gave us a laugh though. The boss called me over to have a look. I saw you on that surfboard crashing back onto the sand. Funniest thing I’ve seen in years.”
“The boss?” I was interested… and a little nervous.
“Yes, Desdemona. She’s in charge around her. She saw you on the beach and decided something needed to be done to rid the area of you. Me and the boys is happy to oblige. Come on lads!”The gull let out a shriek like metal scraping against metal and from the rocks nearby rose a flock of singularly huge gulls. They must have been watching us. They looked hungry.
“Right Shane and Rodney, get the rope!” I gave a start Two vast birds were lugging a coil of rope towards me. The rest of the flock followed close behind.
“Ok, boys, who’s good at tying knots? Right, Don, you go ahead. Right, tie the rope around the surfboard. Yep, that’s right. No, Don, you are not putting a bow tie on, not today anyway. Tie a proper knot, a double bowline will do. That’s it. Right Bertram, get on the board. Go on, what are you waiting for?”
“Ow!” A sharp poke in the side made me cry out and open my eyes which I had shut as I waited for them to bind and gag me
“Come on Bertram!”
It took me a while to realise that the gull was addressing me and not some other fine fellow by the name of Bertram. “I am Ferdinand,” I told him in my politest, firmest tones.
“Whatever. Get on the board. The boys will tow you out.”
“Tow me? Where to?”
“To the aunts, of course.”
“The aunts?” I swallowed.
“Yeah,” the seagull chuckled. I did not like the sound of his chuckle nor the sound of the aunts, but the threat of a flock of seagulls with sharp beaks drove me onto the board and the next thing I was clinging on tightly and bobbing out to sea, pulled by Shane and Rodney, though I never worked out which one was which.
The aunts turned out to be Desdemona and Katarina, two bottle nosed dolphins, who acted as some sort of guardians to the animals in the area. I noticed that the chief gull – who turned out to be called Dennis – was polite to these two, and the dolphins in turn were polite to me. In fact, I find it hard to believe that Desdemona had ever laughed at my predicament, so concerned was she for me. She and Katarina took over from Shane and Rodney and the next thing I was skimming along through the waters towards our latest promised land – New Zealand.
Map of New Zealand in relation to Tasmania
Wow Ferd! You are the best!
You certainly are!
Welcome to New Zealand. I and my family would be very pleased to meet you. Please can you make your way to Lake Manapouri where I will send a delegation to greet you at the end of Supply Bay Road. Can you be there on May 31 at 11.00?
Does anyone know this Kiwi-fruit? Axel could be right. I’ve been making some enquiries and no-one else knows about another kiwi on the internet. Take care Ferdy!
You don’t trust me, fair dos, but listen to Axel and Casey.