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Published: June 26th 2018
The next morning we had a beautiful coastal drive to Invercargill. There was huge amounts of farmland everywhere you looked and the cliffs, beaches and shores were just like Cornwall but the waves considerably bigger. It was a drizzly, windy day and this is the first landmass since Antarctica so these were big. Once we arrived in Invercargill we were met with quite a drab boring town with not a lot going for it. It may have been the weather but it wasn’t the most memorable place we’ve been! Sooooooooooo more shopping. We went and did a food shop at Pak n’ Save and looked in a few op (charity) shops. We also splurged on some walking boots for the trekking here but also Nepal. We went to the local hunting and fishing shop and looked for the best lures and baits etc. to use for our new hobby (that’s going so well). That all took up some time so off we headed to another coastal free spot close to a beach where penguins nest. They apparently come out of the water at sunset after they’ve fed but unfortunately no penguins for us this time.
We drove down towards the Catlins and as we got further from invercargil the scenery got more beautiful once again. Lots of farm land with big dairy farms and cows grazing in the fields. The weather was beautiful and so we headed for Waipapa point light house to have a walk on the beach. It was a long drive down more dreaded gravel roads but the mothership rattled on as we listened to one of Elbows live albums. We arrived in a little car park and walked through the dunes and up to the lighthouse. As we were walking along we overheard some other excited tourists saying there were seals in the beach. There were signs in the dunes telling everyone to keep their distance but we headed down anyway to see for ourselves. Sure enough, just above the seaweed tide line there was an absolute whopper sunning himself in the sand. Cute probably isn’t the right phase to use for these guys. Well, maybe the little pups, but this guy was just a huge heap of sandy fur, flies and blubber! We watched for a while as he rolled about getting cosy in the sand and then went for a little stroll along the beach. We had heard there was a really good penguin spotting place a little further down the coast so we hopped back in the mothership to try our luck again. The new location was obviously a much better place, unfortunately that comes hand in hand with heaps of other people who have the same idea. We went down to the beach but couldn’t see anything and all the signs said they only cross the beach first thing in the morning and last thing at sunset. We drove a little further down the coast and found a great freedom camping spot over looking a tidal bay, lots of sea birds, again no penguins. Char was happy to give up on the penguin hunt but Jack was determined and so we went back at sunset. This time we did have some success... a lady had a fancy camera with a mega zoom and she had got a great picture! We however still saw nothing! Oh well, box wine and bed.
We continued on up the south east coast and made a deal that we will stop on ALL of the brown signs signalling something worth looking at. Our first stop was McLean Falls. These falls were discovered by Mr McLean (hence the name) and thank goodness he did! It started off with a lovely woodland walk through giant ferns and gnarly trees. Then we could suddenly hear some trickling and went round the corner and there were 3 or 4 different levels of waterfalls. The first was the biggest. It was a sheer drop of 70 metres or so and then the water continued on cascading through the green, rocky jungle floor until it disappeared into the shrubbery. Jack found a track that lead up to the top of the falls and had an awesome view of the tree tops and the rest of the river. After this first one we were spoiled really. We stopped off at 3 or so other waterfalls and they were lovely.... but not unbelievable. We were happy enough though as we had some walking boots to break in!
On our way up the coast further we found a river and had another bash at this fishing malarkey but, you guessed it, no bites! On our way back we stopped and spoke to two fishermen who looked like they knew what they were doing. We cracked open a few beers and chatted to them about all sorts whilst every now and then they’d check their lines for “pesky eels nicking their bait”. We would have agreed with them but we would have been over the moon if we’d caught an eel! They were kind enough to give us a few lures and tips on good fishing spots before we left them though - they must have felt sorry for us!
We cracked on to Brighton, where we would be staying the night, but had to overcome an obstacle. A huge hill with a steep incline filled with potholes in the middle of farmland and we had to go down it! We took a deep breath and plummeted down the path, a few screams and winces later we came back out the other side unscathed. We got to Brighton and just as it sounds, it was a lovely seaside town with a great beach and park. So we pulled up there and had a kip.
In Dunedin we had been told there was excellent fishing from the wharf so we set out and found a perfect spot. One of our lures was specifically designed for sea water fishing so Jack gave it an almighty cast into the sea aaaaannnnddd it got stuck in the seaweed. We tried and tried to free the line but in the end had to cut it off. Not to be down hearted we had a couple more casts, lost a couple more lures and decided to move spots. We did cook ourselves some lovely grub in the process though, one of the many great things about having a portable stove. We drove further up the coast onto the peninsula and found a spot where there were locals fishing, that had to be a good sign, right?! Wrong, another couple of hours in deteriorating weather and we sacked it off empty handed. To cheer our selves up we chinned a couple of beers and went for a wonder around Dunedin. We stopped at the museum where Jack went to learn about Naval history and Char sat down to watch a video on how to make seaweed bags! Unfortunately because we’d spent so long farting about trying to catch our dinner we got chucked out the museum before we’d actually finished. There were some beautiful old cars, boats and trains there and it was actually one of the more impressive museums we’d visited in NZ. We then went to the library to send off some job applications and look at our options for work. We applied for some holiday park work back around the wanika area and took down some other numbers of places encase that didn’t work out. Then, with fish still on the brain we went to buy fish and chips and found somewhere to camp for the night. There was a right character in the chippy who really thought an awful lot of himself and spent 20 minutes chatting at us about his chaotic life. We attempted to create a two way conversation with him but there was clearly no point so we grabbed our grub and ran off. It was a lovely treat that night not having to cook and wash up in the van and even better when the weather turned and sideways rain came pelting down on the mothership.
The next day we put some distance between us and Brighton (as it was raining) and keen to continue breaking in our boots decided it was time to do another mountain. This time it was Mount Cargill. We parked up and marched on up. It was a nice track and actually doubled up as a mountain bike course too. The climb was a steady one and took us a few hours. There was the usual dense forest and Jungle towards the bottom with the soil and landscape turning drier and sandier. Once we reached the top the view was incredible! There was sea, city and a view of the green hillsides that looked like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The hills looked like upside down egg cups with small peaks all the way to the horizon - weird but beautiful. We met an Indian family up there (who drove up - wimps) who took some pictures of us a the top and then we descended. After this we were pretty shattered so just drove on up the coast and found a free spot for the night to rest our weary legs.
On our route up to Christchurch we passed through Oramau. This place was awesome. We wondered through the streets and it looked like a traditional English town back in the early 1900s. There were cobbled streets and great little cafes and shops. The main attraction in this town was the “Steamhouse Punk” culture. There were locals walking around geared up in tall black hats, eye monicals, shirts and blouses all different colours and the beards on show would put Father Christmas to shame! We spent hours perusing and gawping at the bizarre (but pretty cool) paintings, books, pictures and clothes that were all around. We even treated ourselves to a roast dinner with a cold beer - great treat.
14 and 15
Nout to report for these days other than more unsuccessful fishing in very beautiful places and beers.
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