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Published: March 19th 2011
Written Wednesday 16th March
Left Invercargill in the pouring rain on Tuesday morning – and started my tour of The Catlns area – (coast and inland area at the very bottom of NZ) – it was cold and blustery as I visited at lighthouse and the site of one of the worst shipwrecks in NZ history- but there was hope as I could see the odd bit of blue sky and there on the far side of the beach I sighted a sealion through the binocs- more to come . Next stop a fossilised forest on an edge down the cliffs - easy to get to with stairs down there and lo and behold a little yellow eyed penguin sitting on its nest too hidden in the bush. This is a great example of a fossilised forest – with tree stumps and whole trees lying there . The sea was a bit rough – and masses of huge seaweeds lashing about.
As the afternoon wore on out came the sun so I could then really appreciate the lovely scenery – hills and farmland and cliffs and beaches. I was headed to a Backpackers called Hilltop. And there it was 2 lovely
bungalows perched on a hill with lovely views of course over to the sea. It seemed deserted but I had rung ahead and told I was in the top house… so in I went bagged a bed in a twin room ( which was only costing me $34=£17) –these houses are just like a nice B+B and you get the use of the kitchen and basically the run of the house …very nicely furnished with a wood burning stove in the lounge and elec blankys too. Some people might be put off by the term backpacker – but really if you search for the smaller places they are really so good and very good value for money. So I made myself a cuppa and sat in the garden in the sun with my book . As it turned out I wasn’t the only one staying there that night and there was a very nice couple from Edinburgh – so we were having a good chat about our respective travels over a glass of wine by the fire in the evening. I stayed 2 nights and was on my own in the house the second night.
So yesterday woke up to
blue sky and sunshine – couldn’t believe my luck again – and I was off again along the coast – there are lots of gravel roads( well maintained) to take you to waterfalls and to various bays…and some of the bays were just WOW scenery again. Usually there is a walk and at Surat Bay I tramped down to the beach to find there is front of me was a very big NZ sealion sunning himself on the sand. Warned that one should not disturb as they might charge you I shimmied along the sand dunes clicking away and walked a bit further to find another one… then on my return journey – there was something coming out of the sea- was it a grey fur seal or a young or female sealion ( I don’t know) ?? so I watched it for quite a while as it rolled in the sand and moved itself along the shore. I was pretty close so got some good shots. Wasn’t it my lucky day!
More walking later took me to Jacks Bay- lovely drive there- and a blowhole which you get to by walking over 2 hills and its on top
of a meadow inland from the sea about 200 m – it is a huge deep hole fed from a subterranean passage – but I suspect the tide has to be right in and a strong sea to make it spectacular… was a bit of a trek and I was knackered when I got back to the van.
So back at Hilltop I was happy to relax and enjoy the birds in the garden and catch up on a bit of reading.
Don’t know when I will get these last blogs posted as it is Back of Beyond here as far as communications technology is concerned … so you will probably get 2 or 3 blogs at once.
Next stop Mainholme Lodge and Pudding Island Cottage…another home exchange.
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