Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: New Zealand

New Zealanders go rabbit hunting for the 'Great Easter Bunny Hunt'

Cottontail rabbit in the snow. While many may spend Sunday hunting the more traditional Easter egg, some New Zealanders will have finished up a hunt for the animal that supposedly delivers them.

The "Great Easter Bunny Hunt" is an annual rabbit hunting event taking place in the Otago region of New Zealand's South Island.

Forty-seven teams are participating in this year's hunt, held as a way of decreasing the non-native rabbit population.

"Each team has 12 shooters, so that means we've got 564 hunters, plus their entourage -- the 'picker-uppers', the cooks, the supporters -- heading out on to farms throughout Central Otago to do battle with the rabbits," event organizer Dave Ramsay told the Otago Daily Times.

The teams shoot throughout the night and have to return by noon Saturday to have their haul counted. With a total prize purse of $3,500 ($2,800 U.S.), most hunters aren't in it for the money but rather the trophy awarded to the team that shoots the greatest number of rabbits, Ramsay said.

Last year, hunters brought in more than 20,000 of the mammals.

"There's no shortage of rabbits," Ramsay added. "There's been plenty of food for them and they have been breeding like ... well, like rabbits. "

-- Kelly Burgess


Photo: Cottontail rabbit in the snow. Credit: Scott Root / Utah Division of Wildlife Resources


Surfing Life magazine's Oakley Big Wave Awards winners announced


The winners have been announced in Australia's Surfing Life magazine Oakley Big Wave Awards.

Presented annually to riders of the biggest waves in Australian and New Zealand waters, the three award divisions -- Biggest Wave, Biggest Slab and Biggest Paddle-in Rides -- highlight surfers pushing their sport to the limit, with seemingly little concern for life, limb or notoriety.

Australia's Mark Mathews was the winner of the Biggest Wave category, for riding the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest wave of 2010 at a terrifying shallow rock reef ledge off southwestern Australia known as "The Right."

Matthews pronounced himself "stunned" and "over the moon" at his win -– his second Biggest Wave prize in three years of entries to the awards.

"To get deep in the barrel out there, you have to be in a position where you really feel like you’re too deep and you’re not going to make it," said Mathews. "It goes against your body’s natural survival instinct."

The Biggest Slab award went to Cale Grigson, from Western Australia, for his own fearsome ride at "The Right" -- one made more interesting by the presence of a great white shark, which cruised around the lineup from dawn to dusk. "In between waves we felt like we were dangling like some sort of human lure," said Grigson.

Biggest Paddle-in Ride was awarded to top pro junior surfer Dean Bowen for his ride off South Coast, New South Wales.

The award ceremony, taking place Thursday in Bondi, Australia, is the culmination of a nine-month challenge and showcases riders of the biggest waves in Australian waters from May 1, 2010, to Jan. 26, 2011.

-- Kelly Burgess


Video credit: Surfing Life


Surfing Life magazine's Oakley Big Wave Awards finalists announced

Surfer Cale Grigson is one of the finalists in Surfing Life magazine's Oakley Big Wave Awards.

The finalists have been announced in Australia's Surfing Life magazine Oakley Big Wave Awards.

Presented annually to riders of the biggest waves in Australian and New Zealand waters, the three award divisions -- biggest wave, biggest slab, and biggest paddle-in rides -- highlight surfers pushing their sport to the limit, with seemingly little concern for life, limb or notoriety.

"People are constantly asking what possesses us as surfers to ride waves that could potentially kill," entrant Shaun Wallbank said. "I think it's a natural progression as an athlete that one would strive to better themselves in their chosen field."

The award ceremony, taking place Feb. 17 in Bondi, Australia, is the culmination of a nine-month challenge and showcases riders of the biggest waves in Australian waters from May 1, 2010 to January 26, 2011.

Entries can be viewed online at www.surfinglife.com.au/bigwaveawards/entries-2010.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Surfer Cale Grigson is one of the finalists in Surfing Life magazine's Oakley Big Wave Awards. Credit: Calum Macaulay

Rookie Carissa Moore wins TSB Bank Women's Surf Festival

Carissa Moore on her way to victory in the TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival.

ASP Women's World Tour rookie Carissa Moore bested Sally Fitzgibbons on pumping offshore barrels to win the TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival at Fitzroy Beach in Taranaki, New Zealand.

Moore, 17, wasted little time, posting a 9.33 out of a possible 10 on her opening wave. She was quick to back it up, lighting up a running lefthander to score an even higher 9.83, giving the Hawaiian the highest heat total of the event, a 19.16 out of a possible 20, as well as the victory.

"The conditions definitely turned on for us this afternoon and I knew I couldn’t leave Sally a lot of room to maneuver," Moore said. "She has been getting the highest scores every round and she’s so dangerous. I just felt like I was building momentum throughout the event and fortunately peaked in the final."

The win vaults Moore from ninth to sixth in the rankings and establishes her as a legitimate threat to win the 2010 ASP Women’s World Tour title.

Despite Moore’s domineering start, Fitzgibbons, from Australia, fought back admirably by scoring 7.50 and 8.67, but it would not be enough to overtake Moore.

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Top-ranked Stephanie Gilmore loses to 15-year-old wild card Sarah Mason in round 3 of TSB Bank Women's Surf Festival


15-year-old wild card Sarah Mason scored an upset victory Thursday in round 3 of the TSB Bank Women's Surf Festival, beating reigning three-time ASP Women's World Tour champion Stephanie Gilmore on 3- to 5-foot waves at Taranaki, New Zealand.

Although the 22-year-old Australian champ held a solid lead throughout most of the heat, it was the young New Zealander who would get the waves needed to score a 6.93 as well as a buzzer-beating 7.10 out of a possible 10 to take the win at Fitzroy Beach.

"I’m buzzing right now," Mason said. "I’m so excited. This is the biggest win of my career. I was down for most of the heat, then I got a pretty good right-hander and that put me back in the hunt. I was just hoping that I could get another opportunity to score. That left came right at the end, and when I heard I got the score, I was blown away."

Mason’s win was well received by the crowd on the beach, which came to Fitzroy in droves to support their local competitors.

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2010 ASP World Tour and ASP Women’s World Tour schedules announced


The 2010 ASP World Tour and ASP Women's World Tour schedules have been released, and there has been some shifting of event dates on both circuits in an effort to take advantage of surf conditions and to have, hopefully, fewer lay days.

2009 ASP World Tour champion Mick Fanning will see familiar venues at which to defend his title but new dates for some of them. The Billabong Pro Teahupoo, Tahiti, will be held late August to early September, rather than this year's May dates. The other notable schedule tweak is for the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro, Brazil, which is now on the calendar for April rather than July. 

On the women's circuit,  the Commonweath Bank Beachley Classic, Australia, has been moved up to take place in April rather than late September to early October.

“2010 will mark some major changes for professional surfing and the schedule reflects this,” Brodie Carr, ASP International CEO, said. “We’re moving dates of certain venues to ensure that we get the best possible surf. It’s going to be an incredible year for surfing.”

The 2010 schedules are:

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Swine flu hysteria spanning global outdoors realm; is any place safe?

Costa Rica's Saint Teresa beach.

The swine flu scare is now global and some of the world's premier outdoors destinations have become swept up in the hysteria.

So if you're a bird-watcher with plans to visit, say, Costa Rica, you may wonder whether it's safe. Of course it is, but there are no guarantees, just as there are none while staying home.

People are contracting the virus in Southern California and New York and in U.S. points between. The virus reportedly has been detected in Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada, Spain and numerous other countries.

There are wonderful destinations where it has not yet surfaced, among them Hawaii, Cuba and Costa Rica. Oops, check that: Two hours ago the Tico Times reported that "a 21-year-old Costa Rican woman has become the country's first case of swine flu and is in stable condition."

This does not mean that tourists should avoid Costa Rica, just as they should not strike every single location in Mexico off their travel list. But don't step onto the airplane with a cough, or you might be turned away after you land. Seriously. It's happening.

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Japanese whaling fleet endures rising tide of opposition

A minke whale is processed aboard a Japanese factory whaling ship in 1995.

Could it be karma, bad luck, or merely unfortunate circumstances that have victimized the Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic region?

The three-vessel fleet, which has been hounded relentlessly by a crew aboard a Sea Shepherd Society ship, has already lost a crewman, who fell overboard and is presumed drowned.

More recently, one of its damaged ships, the Yushin Maru #2, has been ordered to leave the Port of Surabaya, East Java, in Indonesia before making repairs to its propeller. Australia and New Zealand do not allow the ships in their ports because large-scale commercial whaling has been condemned internationally.

Now, it seems, neither will Indonesia, which received communiques from Australia asking that it deny the whaling ships any services.

Among them, according to Sea Shepherd, was this one from Mayor Peter Tagliaferri of Fremantle, to Port officials and Mayor Banbang Dwi Hartono of Surabaya:

"The city of Fremantle does not support the illegal slaughter of whales and has constantly conveyed this through diplomatic processes to the Japanese government.

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Great white shark dissection deemed a success

The public in attendance gets an up-close look at the great white shark.

The necropsy of a great white shark conducted by the Auckland Museum and the New Zealand Department of Conservation is being described as a huge success.

The dissection, the first of its kind for the museum, took place in front of a crowd of nearly 4,000 people and was also watched live by an estimated 30,000 people around the world on the museum's Internet site, where it was streamed live and can still be viewed.

"This was a fantastic and rare opportunity to bring the public face to face with a great white, both to promote the conservation of this magnificent and vulnerable species and to further our knowledge of great white biology," said Auckland Museum marine curator Tom Trnski, who took part in the operation along with DOC marine conservationist Clinton Duffy.

The stomach contents were removed and examined, and did not contain any surprises -- remains of fish, parasites, a small fish hook and some nylon wire.

The shark, an adolescent female that measured 10 feet long and weighed 660 pounds, was accidentally caught by a  New Zealand fisherman when it became entangled in a gill net in Auckland's Kaipara Harbor last week.

Some may question whether the public necropsy was performed for research or merely publicity. What do you think?

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: The public gets an up-close look at the great white shark. Credit: Auckland Museum

Whale hunts by Japan: Is the tide finally turning against them?

Greenpeace activists try to prevent a Japanese vessel from whaling in Antarctica's Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in 1999.

While walking into a Whole Foods market recently, I was greeted by two Greenpeace recruiters, and we talked about Japanese whaling in the Antarctic and clashes between whalers and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

I asked why Greenpeace did not send a boat to the region this season and was told it's because Australia and New Zealand, which do not approve of disruptive tactics by the two groups, had announced it would not respond to any emergency arising from the clashes.

In an e-mail, John Hocevar, campaign manager for Greenpeace USA, did not confirm this. He replied: "We are focusing our pressure where it can have the most impact, on the decision makers in Tokyo."

Hocevar noted that two Japanese-based Greenpeace activists were jailed and facing prison sentences of up to 10 years for their roles "in blowing the whistle on illegal whale meat smuggling."

In May, Greenpeace posted its version of the story on its website:

"Greenpeace Japan used undercover investigators and the testimony of informers to expose that large amounts of prime cut whale meat were being smuggled from the whaling ship Nisshin Maru disguised as personal baggage, labeled "cardboard" or "salted stuff" and addressed to the private homes of crewmembers.

"Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki intercepted one box out of four sent to one address, discovered it contained whale meat valued at up to $3,000, and took it to the Tokyo public prosecutor."

The two were subsequently arrested and charged with stealing whale meat. Greenpeace considers them political prisoners.

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Great white shark dissection to be shown live online

Great white shark near Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Scientists in New Zealand will perform a necropsy on a 10-foot great white shark today, hoping the operation will add to their limited knowledge of one of the ocean's least known-about creatures.

The necropsy, believed to be the first of its kind, will take place at Auckland Museum in front of about 1,000 members of the public.  It will also be streamed online and can be viewed live  2-4 p.m. PST at http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/Default.asp?t=913.

"It's very exciting, we've never done anything like this in front of the public before," said Tom Trnski, marine curator at Auckland Museum. "It's a rare opportunity for us. Little is known about the life history of these apex predators of the ocean, and we hope to learn more about the shark's recent past before it came into the harbor."

The shark, an adolescent female that measures 10 feet long and weighs 660 pounds, was accidentally caught by a local New Zealand fisherman after it had become entangled in a gill net in Auckland's Kaipara Harbor last week.

The scientists will dissect the shark in an open amphitheater at the museum and examine its stomach content, measure its internal organs and record all of their findings for international shark research.  The reproductive organs also will be examined.

"We're interested in the gut content to see what the shark has eaten -- it could be anything from seals, penguins, fish or even whale blubber," Trnski said. "We're certainly hoping not to find any human bits inside, but you never know."

The dissection of the shark comes after weeks of recent shark sightings around New Zealand and Australia.

Hopefully the scientists will gain much information from this opportunity and it won't turn out to be akin to Al Capone's vault.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Great white shark near Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Credit: sharkdiver.com


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.