Tag: whale

Abandoned Military Camp

Lost in the rolling green hills of central Taranaki, lies a place not many people know about. My father introduced me to this historic site when I was a child, and told me it was a secret. He had used the military camp when he was training at school as a young boy. It was then, 50-60 years ago, that the camp closed down and let nature consume what was left.

Today I returned to that site, not being there since I was a child myself, unaware of just how much it had changed.

Heads up: I wouldn’t walk through this place at night time.

Photo by Adambutchart

From the outside, it looks nothing more than just an old farmers shed that’s been forgotten about. But what’s inside is far more appealing…

Crawling over the wooden fences, worming my way around the pillars, I entered the place I haven’t seen in years.

Straight away, my heart dropped. This place looks completely and utterly haunted. The wooden benches attached to the concrete wall stuck out just as I had remembered. The long grass crept down the edge of the concrete, creating a waterfall effect, adding to the eeriness.

Finally some good news, I found a friend! This little guy scuttled away from me so quick I thought I had seen a ghost.

As I ventured through this not-so-wonderland, I felt incredibly isolated. The only signs of life were the spiders hanging down from their webs, which I had to avoid in order to keep my sanity.

Finally, some light. The last standing target from this military camp is riddled with bullet holes. I began to feel incredibly overwhelmed by the history of this place and left to scour the parameter.

From an aeroplane, you wouldn’t know this was here. I think that was the point in the first place. Somewhere you could actually feel like you were at war, consumed by isolation & fear.

After climbing the cliff-face, I discovered a bullet lodged into the mud. I wonder if my father shot this bullet, all those years ago.


The Importance of Self-Discovery

The ability to be an independent individual who has fully discovered oneself is a rarity. Many of us breeze through life, living our almost forced realities while following the motto “life happened”. We rely on others far too much, how can we really understand who we are and what we really want in life when we seek the opinions of others to change our own minds? What we don’t understand is just how important self-discovery and independence really is.

The hardest part of getting to know yourself is without a doubt learning and accepting your flaws. This is so important, the fact that New Zealand’s suicide rate from 2002 – 2012 has stayed at a steady rate of averagely 11 deaths a year per 100,000 people. What is the main reason for this alarming suicide rate?


A large contributor to these statistics includes self-esteem and bullying issues. If we are taught to control our bodies, to look after them physically and most importantly mentally, we should see a decreasing suicide rate in New Zealand. Even the ugliest things about you will bring the great sense of pride and fulfillment because, without them, you wouldn’t be you. After all, life is too short to spend it at war with your own mind.

We rely on others far more than necessary. We put out happiness in the hands of a significant other, as we think this will bring ourselves and them fulfillment. This is a critical error far too many people make these days. We don’t want to feel obligated and dependent on someone else, do we? Of course not. For some reason, people find it weird to go see a movie or sit at a café with a coffee by yourself. Why? You don’t speak to people while you’re in a movie theater, and what’s wrong with having some alone time in a café? We are unaware of how healthy these independent activities really are.

We must make decisions by ourselves, and for ourselves. We mustn’t ask for advice, place our responsibilities in the hands of others, and dwell on our flaws. In a certain way, we are born alone and we die alone, so it is our responsibility to look after ourselves and make the most of the time we have.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs.


RAW: 10 Reasons Why I’m Proud to be Called Crazy.

“Have you created a life for yourself where you’re free to experience all your darkest fantasies? I have. I am crazy. But I am free.” – Lana Del Rey

Not long ago, I had a bit of a revelation in my life, and now it’s time to reconnect with my inner self I once knew. What does that mean though, and how do I accomplish this? Simple – by being as crazy as I want to be.

What a lot of us don’t realize, is that we are the ones who control our lives, not anyone else. And if someone tries to take that power away from you, then it’s time to do some thinking as to whether you should be allowing that person to be in your life. I am sick of hearing people say, “life happened” when what really happened is that you gave up. You let this happen, and now you have to deal with the consequences.

So, that being said, I’ve put together a small list of reasons why I’m proud to be called crazy. I hope you can relate to some of these.

  1. Being crazy is who I am. Don’t like it? Leave.
  2. I get to have as much fun as I want.
  3. I don’t care about what people say/think about me.
  4. I get to talk to my cat and tell him how proud I am that he bet up the neighbor’s cat that tried to take his food.
  5. I’m crazy enough to choose to be happy.
  6. I can walk away from a high paying job, just because I knew it wouldn’t make me happy.
  7. I get to choose who I have relationships with – NOT the other way around.
  8. I don’t care about how much money I have.
  9. I couldn’t care less about being successful.
  10. I do however care about how much love I give to this world.

I’m done being the one who fails to surrender to the opportunities life throws at me. I am now choosing to fill my life with the experiences that make me the happiest and bring me the most joy. I couldn’t care less if anyone tells me otherwise.

And if all of that makes me crazy? Then I want to be crazy.

“That is the key of this collection, being yourself. Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live” – Gianni Versace.

Adam Butchart, qualified and crazy journalist.

Orca Whales in Taranaki: How can we protect them?

With Orca sightings become more and more common in New Plymouth, how can we help the whale population become sustainable in Taranaki Waters?

It’s nothing new seeing Orca whales pondering through our renown Taranaki waters, and when they do, residents quickly become ecstatic at the news of the sighting and travel down to the coastline just for a glimpse of the magnificent mammal. Orca prefer deep water, but often come in closer to shore to feed on stingray, (commonly found along our rocky coastline). If you’re lucky, you can experience Orcas feeding on stingray! They hunt and kill their prey by grabbing the stingrays, flipping them upside down, paralysing them, and then eating their livers.


DOC encourages residents who happen to be in the water when Orcas appear to be gentle, and to not chase the animal, but actually let the Orca come to you. Under the marine mammal’s protection regulations 2002, it is actually illegal to swim within 100 meters of an Orca whale. This is due to safety concerns and protection purposes of the whales. The penalty for breaching the regulations can reach up to a $10,000 fine! In addition to swimming, it is an offence to harass, disturb, injure, or kill marine mammals, which is a given. The penalty for infringing this offence is a maximum of two year’s imprisonment or a fine of up to $250,000. However, it still pays to show respect around these animals. Remember that if a whale approaches you (which is highly likely in Taranaki if you’re a surfer), be gentle and do not attempt to harass the mammal. There have only been several cases of injury and death caused by killer whales, most occurring in captivity. So as for the odds of being attacked by an Orca in our waters, there’s really nothing to worry about.

Furthermore, if you’re lucky enough to see a pod Orca Whales swimming in our waters, how can you properly identify them? Otherwise known as the Orcinus orca, a killer whale can be identified by its un-missable black and white markings along it’s body, this is the main characteristic most people use to identify the whale. They also hold a very tall and prominent dorsal fin. In the wild, Orcas can grow up to 9m in length! In terms of the sexes, females and males differ in that males are longer and bulkier than females and females have smaller, more curved dorsal fins, and smaller flippers.

New Zealand is home to an estimated 150–200 Orca Whales. Those of which travel extensive lengths throughout the country’s coastal waters. Experts are beginning to understand that Orca throughout the world have different personalities and actually adapt to life wherever they are situated, much like humans do. Orca are typically encountered in family groups called pods. Orcas will generally stay in their pods for life, raising their young and swimming alongside them until they mature, therefore continuing the life cycle.

Follow these rules when sharing the ocean with orca.

  • Do not swim within 100 m of a killer whale/orca.
  • If you see any while in a boat/other vessel, do not be within 50 meters of the whale.
  • Do not circle Orcas, obstruct their path or cut through any group.
  • Operate your boat slowly and quietly at ‘no wake’ speed when within 300 m of a killer whale.
  • Avoid sudden noises that could startle the animals.
  • Be sure to experience the magnificence of these stunning creatures!

Coffee has taken over my life: Confessions of a coffee addict

Read the full article on Stuff.co.nz: http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff-nation/assignments/share-your-news-and-views/14345219/Its-taken-over-my-life-Confessions-of-a-coffee-addict

In the sixth century A.D, somewhere in the Ethiopian Highlands, lived a man called Kaldi.

One night, or so the story goes, Kaldi was checking on his herd of goats when he noticed something strange. The goats were dancing around the field, not just alert but hyperactive. He later discovered that the reason for this uncharacteristic behavior was that they’d eaten a strange berry from a tree that had grown in his field.

Curious, Kaldi decided to show the berries to an Islamic monk from a local monastery, but the monk thought the berries were potentially dangerous, and threw them into a fire. A rich aroma flooded the monastery, and the monks quickly salvaged the roasted beans from the fire, ground them up, and dissolved them in a cup of hot water – before one sipped the world’s first ever cup of coffee. The beverage later became Kaldi’s secret to waking up and staying alert throughout the day. Sound familiar?

I confess that I am a coffee addict. Yes, I have loved the bitter black beverage for years, and likely will do for many years to come. I don’t just drink it to stay awake. When I’m feeling stressed, I find solitude in coffee, and I feel a thousand times better after making and drinking a good cup of coffee. The taste and aroma blinds me from my worries. So, although I’m a very health conscious person who limits junk food and exercises daily, I still find myself drinking an average of three cups of coffee a day. The most I’ve ever had in one day was seven cups.

My drink of choice will always be the classic latté, although some days I feel adventurous and add a shot of hazelnut, or vanilla. As a 19-year-old student in New Plymouth, I usually make my coffee at home, but when out shopping/running errands in the city, I always find myself crawling into the local Starbucks. I find it hard to find a good cup of coffee in this city.

Recently I came to the conclusion that coffee has taken over my life. While working at my part-time job late last year, I had a caffeine overdose, and started wildly hallucinating. I couldn’t focus and had to take an early lunch break, where I consumed about two litres of water to flush the caffeine out of my system. This made me wonder why I drink so much coffee. I can definitely feel more alert after my morning fix, and I absolutely adore the taste and aroma of coffee, but is it really benefiting me? More importantly, does coffee contain any necessary nutrients, or is it just an addictive drug?

The main active in coffee, caffeine, is an addictive substance. It’s everywhere, in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate – all the good stuff. Studies have shown that people who drink an average of one cup of coffee (100mg of caffeine) a day tend to acquire a physical dependence that, when they stop, trigger withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, depression, muscle pain and more.

Debora-Dale Young, a pharmacist/technical consultant at the New Zealand supplements’ company Clinicians, warn people against drinking too much coffee.

“We seem to live in a coffee culture, with many people spending large amounts of money in cafes or on take out coffee to get them through the day.” While this may seem beneficial in the short term, she believes it can also have negative effects on the health of some.

What’s more, the Kirschman Nutrition Almanac on food composition states that coffee as a whole contributes little nutrition to the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of an average 68kg human. What else does this potentially dangerous drug have to offer other than alertness and a nice taste?

While the Kirschman Nutrition Almanac shows that coffee provides little to our RDA, there are in fact some essential nutrients in coffee. A typical cup of coffee includes Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 11 per cent of the RDA, Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): 6 per cent of the RDA, Manganese and Potassium: 3 per cent of the RDA, and Magnesium and Niacin (B3): 2 per cent of the RDA. Overall, nothing spectacular. What’s interesting is how the latest release of the Diagnosis and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatric Association includes caffeine withdrawal as a mental disorder. Symptoms include headaches, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depressed mood and difficulty concentrating. These begin about 12-24 hours after you have stopped drinking coffee, and can continue for up to 9 days. However, these symptoms can easily be avoided if you gradually slow down your coffee intake so your body can adjust to a caffeine-free life.

While caffeine is a drug, it’s actually beneficial to our health when taken in moderation. For a start, it can help to prevent the risk of type-two diabetes: studies show that heavy caffeine drinkers have a 23-50 per cent lower risk of getting this disease, with one study of showing a reduction as high as 67 per cent. It can also help you lose weight; several studies show that caffeine can boost the metabolic rate by 3-11 per cent. However, it is likely that these effects will diminish in long term coffee drinkers, so I’m out of luck.

What’s more, after you drink coffee, the caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to your brain. The caffeine then blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. When that happens, the amount of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine (which are helpful in terms of motivation) increases. Consequently, coffee does in fact improve various aspects of brain function including memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general cognitive function, which is excellent news for my studying.

Bizarrely, our judgment of someone’s character can be influenced by something as simple as holding a warm cup of coffee. Professor John A. Bargh and Lawrence E. Williams from Yale University’s School of Medicine tested a theory: would people seem more generous and caring if they had just held a cup of warm coffee, and less so if they were holding an iced coffee? The two scientists decided to test the impact of warmth on the perceptions of students chosen at random throughout the Yale University campus.

Professor Williams predicted that holding the warm cup of coffee would make the subject more prone to have a positive and ’warmer’ outlook. Random undergraduate students were asked to briefly hold a cup of iced coffee or warm coffee as they wrote down specific information about an individual and his/her personality traits. Williams’ prediction was true, the students seemed to assess the random individuals as “warmer” if they had just held the cup of warm coffee as opposed to the iced coffee. This proves coffee is not just an addictive drug, we actually become happier once we have that morning cup of coffee in our hands.

Perhaps Kaldi was on to something when he stumbled across the coffee bean. There is overwhelming evidence that, when taken in moderation, coffee can definitely benefit our health. The key to living a healthy life is moderation. You don’t have to quit coffee entirely. You can drink an appropriate amount of coffee a day, treat yourself to a cinnamon glazed donut, and still be healthy. Everything in moderation, right? If we lose our sense of moderation, we lose control:

• You wake up and immediately reach for the coffee.

• You’ve experienced a caffeine overdose (hallucinations, nausea) due to drinking too much coffee.

• You find yourself unable to function properly past 3pm, and need another ‘fix’.

• The first thing you do when arriving in a new city is find the nearest coffee shop.

• You store a crazy and diverse amount of coffee in your kitchen.

• You make it a rule to drink coffee before any sort of function/meeting in order to stay alert.

• You’re constantly chewing gum to hide that hideous coffee breath.

• You make coffee so strong that it stinks out the whole house.

• You work at a café just for discount coffee.

What else does this potentially dangerous drug have to offer other than alertness and a nice taste?