National Geographic : 1972 Jan
Maoris say the motion is produced by the breathing of a giant sleeping in the lake." Scientists ascribe the rhythmic heaving, called seiche action, to atmospheric pressure changes and mountain-funneled winds. Mr. Lucas was waiting at the dock when we arrived, and he piled us into a bus for the trip to his homestead-a rambling ranch house on a gently sloping field. By New Zealand standards the Cecil Peak Station, with 34,000 acres, is a medium-to-large-size spread. But to me it looked like a mountain ous version of Texas's huge King Ranch. Southland Lures Americans Popeye's wife Lorie served tea, and we sat around the comfortable living room discuss ing ranch life. "We have a terrible time getting young lads to go into this business-most of them head for the cities," said Popeye. "But fortunately, now that they're out of school, none of my four boys want to be anyplace but here [pages 104-5]. So what with Lorie and me, our sons, a daughter, a son-in-law, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren, we're not a family any more, we're a tribe." While we were talking, I became almost uncomfortably aware of the silence around us. The only noises outside were an occasional birdsong and the rustle of wind through the trees. I asked how the children coped with such a remote existence. "Oh, it's not so remote," said Popeye. "I get to Queenstown every now and then. And when I do," he added with a chuckle, "Lorie has to send the dogs after me. As for the kids - maybe they're missing something, but I don't think so. The way most of the country is developing, we all think we're pretty lucky to have this solitude." The lure of such a lonely life has attracted scores of Americans to the South Island. Some come to live out their retirement years in relatively inexpensive peace and comfort. Others, like a young businessman named Stockton Rush, have grander designs. Rush operates a new hunting and fishing lodge down south near Lake Te Anau, and has be come the object of considerable controversy. Some politicians say he is bent on profiteer ing-buying land cheap, subdividing, and selling at a handsome markup; others wel come the impetus he is giving tourism. Rush, a burly, handsome man of 40, met me at Te Anau's landing strip, and we drove toward the mountains in his Land-Rover. As 106 Windswept solitude envelops a farm over looking Akaroa Harbour (above). Now peo pled by farmers and fishermen, this eastern inlet, an ancient volcanic crater, held a 19th century whaling station. Legacy of early settlers, red deer (right) flourish over much of the South Island, where bats are the only native land mam mals. Elk, goats, chamois, and game birds were also introduced. Lacking natural ene mies, the deer have overrun the bush coun try; today they are hunted commercially and controversially-from helicopters.