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Friday, 6 January 2012

Moa Hunting

Takaka limestone country
Whilst on holiday in the Nelson area last week, I went for a look around the limestone plateau of Takaka Hill, not far from the huge natural shaft of Harwood's Hole. I managed to persuade a couple of friends to come along for the adventure.

The area is very rugged, covered with rock outcrops and tangled vegetation. There are many caves (see my earlier blog post from January 2010) and my particular interest was to look for small vertical shafts that might have acted as lethal traps to the moa that once roamed the area.

The delights of moa hunting
With some careful searching, it did not take long to find some cave entrances. Some of the shafts are very deep and obviously care is needed in this environment to avoid the fate of becoming entombed and fossilised just like the moa that we were hoping to discover.

As you can see, some of these caves are very small. With a bit of wiggling and squirming, we were able to push down into them.



Moa bones lie scattered at the bottom of a cave
Sure enough, a couple of them contained parts of moa skeletons lying at the bottom. In this image you can see a variety of bones, including leg bones and a pelvis. The number of different bones that we saw in this cave indicated that at least three or four moa individuals had been caught there.








Moa pelvis
 This is a close up of the pelvic bones of a moa
Moa bones in narrow fissure














At the very bottom of this cave, there were more bones visible, but the fissure was too tight to get close to.

We were very satisfied with our discoveries, and happy to leave the bones in place for future rediscovery and study.

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