Last month, a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign designed to lure Aussie tourists back to Christchurch was launched across the ditch and online. The mockumentary-style ads centre around Christchurch mayor Bob Parker's quest to borrow one of Australia's iconic "big things" to use as bait, thereby enticing Lucky Country residents to visit Christchurch and spend some dosh.
There's been a good-natured response from an Australian businesswoman, who's offered to ship the "big thing" over to Aotearoa once Bob has managed to acquire it.
It's all good fun and I hope the campaign works ... but NZ does actually have a few big things of its own, most of which its own people (myself included) don't know a heck of a lot about.
On the "big sculpture" side, we have the big salmon of Rakaia, the big brown trout of Gore and assorted fruit, animals and soft drink bottles dotted around the country. On the "lesser-known but still big" front, there's the giant weta, the Nelson cave spider and the beautiful, carnivorous land snail, Powelliphanta.
There's also this:
It's a leaf-veined slug, endemic to New Zealand. I had no idea these even existed until I saw this guy having a rest on the cover of our worm farm. I've since learned there are about 30 species of native slug and they all have the leaf-vein pattern on their backs.
These slugs eat algae and fungi; they're not harmful to garden plants. They're also nocturnal, so it was a surprise to see this one out in the late afternoon. I gave it a very gentle prod with a stick (you don't seriously think I'd actually TOUCH it with my HAND, do you?! My scientific curiosity only stretches so far) but it didn't respond, so it might've been dead. It was gone by the next morning.
I grabbed a plant punnet to put behind it and give it some scale. It's a damn sight bigger than your common, garden-variety destroyer of lettuces:
So there you are: the leaf veined slug. While I can't see Bob Parker rushing to include them in any tourism campaign (unless he's targeting entomologists), these molluscs are important members of the local ecosystem and it's great to know they're doin' their sluggy thang here at Muntanui.
Posted by Farmer Nik
About Ewan and Niki
Scottish mechanical engineer with a deep and abiding passion for good food. Outstanding cook. Builder of lots of stuff. Cattle whisperer. Connoisseur of beer. A lover rather than a fighter.
Kiwi writer and broadcaster who hates cabbage, even though she knows it's good for her. Chook wrangler. Grower of food and flowers. Maker of fine preserves. Lover of dancing and wine. Definitely a fighter.