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April 1st 2010
Published: April 2nd 2010
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Bluff - Slope Point

Preparing For The Next ChallengePreparing For The Next ChallengePreparing For The Next Challenge

Swimming to Antarctica from Slope Point.
Bluff is the bottom of the South Island, right? Well, actually no. Ask the locals and most of them will tell you that the true southernmost tip of the South Island is Slope Point, 70 kilometres east of Invercargill.
How the signpost at Bluff came to be established as the southernmost point isn’t clear to me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that at Bluff there is a port and a township, both readily accessible by car. At Slope Point there is nothing other than some sheep grazing in the paddocks and a 20 minute walk through farmland to a sign pointing to the South Pole and the Equator.

It Adds Up

It didn’t take much arithmetic to work out that Slope Point is in fact, the most southerly point.
Its latitude is 46 degrees 40 minutes and 40 seconds S. The signpost at Bluff says its latitude is 46 degrees 36' 54" S, nearly 4 minutes difference. One minute of latitude equals one nautical mile, which is a bit longer than an ordinary mile. And both are quite a bit longer than a kilometre. A simple conversion (thanks to the internet) reveals that 4 nautical miles equals 7.4 kilometres - Slope Point wins by more than a country mile.

Who's Counting?

All of this may seem irrelevant, except that thousands of visitors (including myself) have their photos taken leaning against that famous sign at Bluff. And most of them probably think they’ve gone as far south as they can on mainland New Zealand.
While I’m at it, let’s not forget about Cape Reinga. It’s the top of the North Island, right? Well, actually no. It’s the northwestern most tip. The real top of the North Island is at North Cape, 30 kilometres to the east.

Hitting the Wall

I had an unfortunate few days in Southland. The weather was damp when it wasn't raining, and some of the places I would have liked to visit were down side roads. For once I didn't have the energy. Yesterday, I hit the wall on the ride north from Owaka to Dunedin, a bit over 100k. I had no intention of visiting Dunedin, but couldn't find a campground so kept going.

Another Highway From Hell

I had little choice
Even More WindEven More WindEven More Wind

Some women customers in a dairy/art gallery told me the weather in Southland wasn't too bad, and I should tell Aucklanders that fact when I returned home. As we were talking, I was studying the paintings on the gallery wall. Many of them were of flax and cabbage trees and other tall trees being thrashed by the wind.
but to ride on SH1, always a mistake and made worse because it was the Thursday before the Easter long weekend. The traffic was heavy and fast, and I was worried about my safety. At Milton, one of three men in a 4WD (why is it always a 4WD?) screamed out the window at me - just a loud noise. For once I lost my patience and scowled back and gave a very firm one-fingered gesture and almost hoped they'd stop and come back. I was in the mood.

Aches & Pains

North of Milton, my left knee started hurting and I just wanted to give up - there was nothing in the tank. Then a car coming in the opposite direction overtook a line of traffic - which meant it was on my side of the road and closing at speed. I was already on the narrow shoulder, but the car was close enough to give me a real fright.

Dazed and Confused

The motorway system in Dunedin confounded me. I tried to follow the cycle route signs but got lost and by 6.30 pm I had no alternative but to
Jurassic ParkJurassic ParkJurassic Park

Fossilised trees are clearly visible at low tide at Curio Bay, in the Catlins. They are 180 million years old.
stop at a fish and chip shop and order up big time. That gave me the strength to reach a campground - my most expensive of the trip. It was not a good day.

Things Always Look Better In The Morning

After a night's sleep, I am pleased to be able to report all is well. I'm taking a day off, have nursed the knee with Voltaren, done my washing and ... yippee.... the sun is shining. And after a somewhat disappointing time in Southland and the Catlins I am planning one last, little adventure - something called the Dunstan Trail. More of that at a later date.

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Sod CottageSod Cottage
Sod Cottage

North of Balclutha
Curio BayCurio Bay
Curio Bay

Since I was last here (many years ago), DOC has built a viewing platform with steps down on to the fossilised remains at Curio Bay.
Sorry, We're ClosedSorry, We're Closed
Sorry, We're Closed

II was really looking forward to my visit to "The Lost Gypsy Gallery" in the Catlins. A sign said "closed wednesdays and when surfing".
Niagara Falls, NZNiagara Falls, NZ
Niagara Falls, NZ

Aparently a surveyor with a sense of humour is responsible for giving these tiny falls their name.
YHA at OwakaYHA at Owaka
YHA at Owaka

In its past life it was some sort of medical institution - I heard nursing home, psychiatric ward and hospital.
Ghostly EchoesGhostly Echoes
Ghostly Echoes

The YHA at Owaka had long corridors of natural wood, acres of hospital size rooms and antiquated plumbing. But it was lovely and I enjoyed my brief stay here.
One Way Trip For Sheep & CattleOne Way Trip For Sheep & Cattle
One Way Trip For Sheep & Cattle

As I approached Balclutha, the traffic increased. In between vehicles I could hear sheep tearing at the grass, fattening themselves up for a one way trip to the local freezing works.

2nd April 2010

Trimmed Beards
Hi Lesley, we should point out to others readers that Alisdair is having to trim his beard as a safety precaution - so a gas mask will fit properly in case of an emergency aboard ship. Wasn't it a great weekend - a very special family occasion. And no - I don't think travel journalism pays much. I know when I'm well off! Cheers.
4th April 2010

Dear Mike, Sounds like you are through the hardest of your riding now. That wind looks intense. Please tell me you weren't heading into it. Great job down there!
5th April 2010

Where the Wild West Winds Blows
Hi Ross, glad to be able to report I wasn't riding into it. But I have discovered that most winds are head winds. Why is that? Just had a fantastic 2-day ride over the Old Dunstan Rd from Dunedin to Alexandra. Great fun but hard work and freezing cold at night. Love to all, Mike

Tot: 2.368s; Tpl: 0.09s; cc: 14; qc: 30; dbt: 0.0411s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 2; ; mem: 1.3mb