Forest giant's new name
Southland's tree with the largest girth is possibly a silver beech tree in Fiordland. This example near the Mica Burn on the road in to Deep Cove has a girth of approximately 12 metres.
The Motu Totara in the Dean Forest has a girth of about 8.3m and an estimated age of more than 1000 years but there could well be Southland macrocarpa trees exceeding both of these.
The Latin name of silver beech has recently been changed from Nothofagus menziesii to Lophozonia menziesii.
Southland's oldest operational pillar box is the one outside Southland Museum and Art Gallery. The initials on it, ER, are those of King Edward VII - Edwardus Rex.
There was a rumour that it had been converted from VR - Victoria Regina - the initials of his mother, but close examination disproves that.
Southland's first marine mammal sanctuaries were declared in September 2008. They restrict fishing in two areas - Te Waewae Bay and the coast from Waikawa Harbour to Fortrose. Each sanctuary has a population of the rare Hectors dolphin.
Dolphins, whales and seals have been protected for a long time but the sanctuary reduces the risk of accidental capture.
There are nine Great Walks in New Zealand, four of these in Southland - Milford Track, Kepler Track, Rakiura Track and Routeburn Track. Of these, the Routeburn has the most trampers (12,917 in the 2012-13 season) followed by the Kepler (10,358), the Milford (7275), and the Rakiura (3619).
All four showed an increase in patronage over the previous season and a total of 86,863 trampers did the nine Great Walks. These figures are incomplete as trampers doing the tracks outside the official season are not counted, and the figures for those doing the guided walks are not available but they would probably double the figures for the Milford and the Routeburn.
Southland's and New Zealand's southernmost school is Halfmoon Bay School. There was formerly a more southerly school on The Neck at Stewart Island from 1875 to 1914. Hardwicke, the ill-fated settlement on Auckland Island from 1849 to 1852, had a number of children and no doubt schooling was provided for them.
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