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Day Seventeen: New Zealand

August 17, 2006

When filmgoers around the world watched the Lord of the Rings movies, they also saw a great advertisement for New Zealand. Aptly known in the native Maori tongue as Aotearoa, or “the land of the long white cloud,” the island nation’s dreamy and spectacular landscapes stood in for the Middle Earth of Tolkien’sand millions of readers’ — imaginations.

While New Zealand is commonly associated with its nearest neighbor Australia, its two main islands are nearly 1,300 miles away from the Land Down Under. This kind of isolation contributed to New Zealand’s unique indigenous plant and animal life, one of which is the chicken-sized, flightless kiwi bird (below), the national symbol. New Zealanders even call themselves Kiwis.

“Well, how can you not love a face like that?” asks Mr. Crumpet.

New Zealand is also the land of sheep. Without any natural predators there, the sheep population has flourished. There are ten sheep for every one human resident!

“A paradise for border collies,” smiles Mr. Crumpet.

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