Geo: -45.4151, 167.718
A bit of frustration in the wind here in New Zealand for us travellers. The past few days have been a comedy of errors it seems. After leaving the Dunedin area, we headed down to the Catlins which is the southernmost part of New Zealand. We had planned on staying 3 nights at a backpacker hostel that was situated just off a wide crescent beach. After driving past all the major viewpoints and hikes along the way due to the blustery, rainy weather, we arrived at our destination with our sights set on a restful 3 days with no driving and maybe, just maybe, time to read and chill out.
We were enjoying the company of a British couple while making and eating our dinner when a big, furry cat walked into the common room of the hostel. My eyes bugged out of my head and my disappointment was overwhelming...how could we stay here with my severe allergy to cats?! Well, we gave it a couple of hours and the entire time I was hearing my mother's voice in my head telling me to get OUT so finally I came to my senses, as my lungs were clearly telling
me to bail, and told the owner we had to leave. With the closest hospital an hour away, it would be unwise to take any chances.
To add to this frustration and disappointment, I had mistakenly booked this hostel on a web page that was not the direct web page of the hostel. This meant we had to pay $33 for our bookings even though we could not stay! A warning to all travellers out there...we have been burned twice and for the last time with this tactic. Some webpages look like you are on the website of the accommodation but often they have flipped to a booking agent who charges you more and the proprietors of the establishment.
Anyway, a quick overnight to a tiny little and very cold backpackers down the road shared with a lovely young French surfer, and the next morning the sun broke out and we were backtracking to all the sights we had missed the previous day. After a few stops for interesting beach walks and trekking out to viewpoints, we arrived at Purakaunui Falls - a jaw-droppingly gorgeous wooded walk and set of waterfalls. We walked through the lush, fern covered forest taking note of
its potential as a Lord of the Rings scene (which it apparently was). Did you know that New Zealand's plant is the fern and that they have about 80 species of them? We ended the sightseeing day by sitting in a special 'hide' provided for discreet viewing of the favourite yellow-eyed penguins (Hoiho) in Roaring Bay beach.
We travelled many kilometers on gravel roads including through the Tahakopa Valley. We stayed at Wrights Mill Lodge, a 1900 era house with the most beautiful gardens. To top it off, we were the only people staying there so had the house to ourselves which was a delight! If it'd been a might bit warmer I would have had an outdoor bath in the red pedestal tub.
Next stop - west coast and the legendary Milford Sound! We based ourselves just outside Te Anau in a place with beautiful views. When planning for our trip to the Sound, we found out the road was closed due to a pending rock slide...more frustration. However, our adaptability muscles kicked in and we drove as far as we could, did 3 astounding hikes, waited to see if the road would open the next day. It didn't
(was closed for 3.5 days) so we headed onward. There's so much natural beauty in this country, all we need to do is turn another corner.
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