Day 135: Boxing Day Outing

Wed. 26th December 2012

Are you looking at me?Our three days of luxury are over and it is time to move back around the corner to Le Pacifique, which is not much of a hardship as it is closer to the sea front and has a much nicer and bigger pool as well as free parking. We had overstocked for Christmas (well doesn’t everyone?) so staggered around the corner with backpacks, daypacks and an enormous shopping bag of beer, coke, milk, muesli, yogurts, fruit, crisps, cheese and crackers (edible ones). We will have to eat all that before we get to Australia given their strict regulations. Luckily our room at Le Pacifique was ready early so we could put most of it straight in the fridge.

We then have to hotfoot it up to the car rental office, which was further than we expected and just made it before they close for lunch at 11:30am. This was just as well as they did not reopen until 2pm. Off we (well Dave) drove in a shiny little Citroen C1 which turned out to be no match for the BMWs we used to own or even our (now Chris’) little Peugeot 206. Still it will be sufficient for getting us around.

Entrance to ParkYesterday we tried out the OsmAnd map app (thanks Gav) for walking, which is brilliant as it works offline, and today we tried the driving instructions. We head off to Parc Zoologique et Forestier on the north side of Noumea and arrived without getting lost. We decide that we can afford the 400CFP (£3 each) entrance fee but find that entrance is free today to mark the 50th anniversary of the park.

After our picnic lunch, finishing the rest of our cheese and bread, we set off to see the birds first. There are various cages birds, and I did not know there were so many varieties of pigeons – the green pigeon was almost pretty. There was also a cage full of budgerigars, which made me wonder if people are still allowed to keep them as pets as I cannot think of anyone who does.

white peacockThere were loads of Indian peafowls, to give them their correct title, strolling around including a few all white ones. They are a long way from home. Further around the park there are a few monkeys in cages which looked very sad, but worse still there was a peregrine falcon in a cage no bigger than a single garage, sat on a branch in the shade looking forlorn. This reminds us why we tend to avoid zoos. The main reason we came here was that Dave saw an advertisement for riding Segways around, sadly they were not there today.

Flaming red treesLeaving the animals behind we head around the forest trail to a promised viewpoint. As most of the other visitors are families with young children the 30 minute walk is deserted. We again see these impressive flowering trees in both red and yellow, reminding me we will need to research all the plants we have seen and taken photos of when we get home.

Promised viewTrying to cover most of the park we take a detour back past a second lake and come across some Fischer (my namesakes but not quite spelt right) lovebirds, small colourful birds but difficult to photograph. There are also ostriches roaming in a large enclosure with two fences to ensure distance is kept, as you would not want to mess with them. We loiter for a while without cameras and study just how large and imposing they are.

Sun parakeetsThese sun parakeets vocally and visually made their presence known, apparently they come from the north eastern part of South America (north of the equator!), an area we want to visit someday as we did not get there this time.

I was impressed that the museum here provides free handouts in English translating the displays in the museum. I can now go away and swot up on Biodiversity.

Armed with our new phone app we head to the nearest big supermarket and there was a slight hiccup when we faced a no entry sign, as it tried to cut through some back streets. Another busy day and we are glad to get back to our hotel and a cold beer.

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