Published: August 11th 2009August 11th 2009
Every Silver Lining Has A Dark Cloud
Half the enjoyment and beauty we experience traveling is the journey to each of our destinations, taking us passed or through places that we do not expect to go to or see, these places can throw up a life long memory, whether it is a little café with the best carrot cake, Cosy Nook a weathered old fishing village or Tuatapere the sausage capital of NZ (where we purchased some of their finest beef Bangers!) but with all these delights it's only a matter of time before disappointment rears its ugly head. Invercargill a bleak seaside city with all the fun of the fair with none of the rides working! Boy racers took to the streets early playing with each others exhausts into the wee hours! Our one night stop at Invercargill was the spring board to brighter places.
A quick detour led us to Bluff for a cheeky little look over to Stewart Island from the mainland but low dark clouds shielding it had other ideas so it was back in Sunny Jim as we headed east hugging the coast as we traveled. We ventured to Slope Point the furthest southerly tip
at the fast flowing Purakaunui Falls, Catlins
of NZ's mainland which took us closer to the Catlins and the more remote it all became.
Take A Walk on the Wild(life)side!
There can be no guarantees given that you will see animals in the wild but what you do need is a slice of luck and a huge dollop of patience as you wait for your slice of luck! Our first slice of luck was served very quickly at Waipapa Point where we encountered the monstrous Hooker's Sea Lions emerging from the Pacific Ocean, one huge grand male and a smaller (lot smaller!) juvenile, lolloping their 400kg frames up the beach then flopping onto the sand. There were no barriers between us and the mountainous beasts, you could get as close as you dared, which isn't close, these guys can move surprisingly quickly on dry land taking out any stupid people who get too close! Some grooming time later another juvenile joined them, what at first looked like a stand off turned very rapidly into a play fight between the younger sea lions, the old sea dog just watched and cleaned his bits! If we'd turned up 30 minutes earlier we would have been walking around an
empty beach and would have been none the wiser!
We know what you're thinking, sea lions, a detour to Bluff and the most southerly point of NZ all in one day, it must be time for bed! Ohhh no, not yet, we had one more place to visit. Curio Bay and the home of one of New Zealand's endangered birds, no not the Kiwi, no not the Kakapo either, it's the yellow-eyed penguin. This wildlife encounter would require a big slice of luck, but first we had the huge dollop of patience to consume.............in the rain and it threw it down, but it was all worth it (just) when a lone penguin graced the beach like a little old man returning from the pub! Dusk was setting in fast but not as fast as the rain was, our spirits were not dampened by our singular sighting unlike the car seats; dripping wet and cold we made our way to our hostel in Surat Bay a stone's (girls) throw from the beach, hoping we would be lucky enough to see more wildlife.
The Great British Roast
Rob came up with the great idea of having a traditional Sunday, this
Pink Sky Sunset
Surat Bay, Catlins
seems a bizarre concept when traveling, the days of the week don't have much significance unless you are meeting someone or catching a boat, sometimes you can have a five minute discussion trying to work out the day/date which could involve asking several other people in a hostel! And you thought we were having exciting travel conversations! Bizarrely enough it actually felt like a Sunday, it was the first time we'd felt this and knew what the day was since before leaving the UK.
The traditional Sunday included a no car day, we were all stocked up with the necessary ingredients and headed out for a Sunday walk along the beach (what else?), this walk had the added bonus of a golden sand beach to ourselves and resident sea lions to entertain us in the winter sunshine. Then it was back to the ranch where a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings including Yorkshire pud's was served up by chef Rob (the advantage of having a hostel to ourselves and being able to hog the kitchen and both ovens!), followed by another walk to watch a stunning pink sky sunset and then back for dessert, Kirstin's fav, golden
You can't see them but they're covered with fur seals
syrup sponge pudding with custard! This was a reminder of what Sundays are all about, sometimes the best things really are the simplest but we guess being in such a special place may have helped!
The Catlins was an area we did not want to leave, so we didn't, well not straight away, we were lucky with the weather and managed to see the beautiful waterfalls that were in full flow after the recent rain and glorious sunsets setting over the hills reflecting in Surat Bay.
P-P-P-P-P-Picture A Penguin!
Nugget Point is a bit of a wildlife mecca where fur seals line the rocky plateaus surrounding the lighthouse and the nuggets (hence the name!). Also, in the roughest bay on the point are the yellow-eyed penguins, after seeing the waves coming in, no wonder they're endangered! A viewing hide offered great shelter from the bitter cold wind and it wasn't long before a crowd had gathered to see the little old men appear from their hard days fishing. Battered by the relentless waves, pulled to and fro from shore, finally a huge cheer went up when a penguin made it to shore, a quick shake, head down, they
Lookout Behind You!
Too late the poor mite got battered, Nugget Point
hopped and waddled their way up the steep bushland to their nests. We must have notched up about seven yellow-eyed penguin sightings, with all this excitement we missed the sun setting but it was worth it!
Our travels around this part of NZ had put to an end the dry spell of wildlife we had been having, our slice of luck and dollop of patience paid off in full!
Our time traveling is coming to an end and only a handful of blogs remain unwritten as they are yet to unfold, so until the next time.
There are more photos below