I love the sign posts that tell you just how far from everything else you are!
When we left Milford Sound we had to get a wriggle on in order to make it all the way south to Invercargill. After a quick stop in Te Auna for some amazing fish and chips, I love the blue cod they serve in the very south as the standard for fish and chips, we ventured on to the very south. We got to see many fields full of animals and a few random fruit stalls along the way. At roughly 8 pm we managed to find our chosen camp site and were just in time to check in and have a chat with the really nice woman who runs the place. Turns out she has been to England many times and had visited more places there than me and Thommo put together. It made me think that I want to explore the UK more, have not actually even been further north than the Lake District! We settle down for the night and watched a DVD, love the fact that we have that in the van.
In the morning we drove into town and visited the Southland Museum. What a great place, not only is it free (well you are
Me at Slope Point
Just had to take our photos with this sign, just like we do with every other sign
asked for a small donation) but it actually houses some interesting Maori artefacts. They also house some tuataras, however they didn’t want to come out to see us. We did get to see a video of them though. After a considerable time spent looking and reading all of the displays we then walked further into the town and spent a few hours in one of the internet cafes. The cinema was only $9 (that’s roughly three pounds!) so we took advantage and saw Pirates of the Caribbean 2. That evening we stayed at the same campsite as the previous night, was a lovely place.
Invercargill is the major city in the south and is only a short distance from Bluff, the most southerly settlement on the South island. In the morning we drove the short distance to Bluff and contemplated going to Stewart Island. However the weather really was not on our side so we drove up to the lookout point and decided not to go. We could just about make the Island out in the foggy distance and went for a short walk to the cliffs edge. The walk was short but very steep and it took
Very moody weather that day, nice walk down to this point though.
ages to get back up it, and the rain didn’t make it easier. Even with the bad weather the coast line still looked enchanting even if some what rough and treacherous. After a quick look around Bluff we then headed back up towards Invercargill to join the Southern Scenic route.
Once on our way towards the area known as the Catlins we came across our first long stretch of unsealed road. Along the way we visited Waipapa point and Slope point. A short walk across farm land is involved to get to the actual sign at Slope point. The sign shows the distance to the Equator and the South Pole, of course we had to take plenty of picture’s of us with the sign. We then continued along the unsealed road until we came to Curio Bay. We located the campsite and set up for the evening. There was no one manning the site so we just had to put our money in the honesty box. I really wonder how many people do not actually put the money in there. As it was dark when we arrived we didn’t really get to see the coastline in its full glory.
That evening I actually managed to cook a full meal in the van. Most nights we have trekked to the campsite’s kitchen and used the facilities there. As this kitchen was limited we decided the van would be easier. I have to say that the layout of our van was really good. Some of the vans we have seen involve cooking out of the back of it with the rear door being your only protection from the elements! This would be great in summer but not in the middle of winter at the very south of the South Island.
What a relief it was to wake up in the morning to nice sunny weather. The coastline was really impressive, the bay stretches out for some distance. At the foot of the hill where the camp site is there are some fossilised forest. After packing up we headed along the coast with the aim of getting to Balclutha. We managed to stop quite a few time’s on the way and take in some more fantastic sites. We were slightly disappointed that we could not get to the McLean Falls due to floods and road washouts. A place called Cathedral caves
I know it is not news but there are so many sheep here. They all look at you.
was shut, also due to bad weather!! So we continued along the coast hoping that other points of beauty would not inaccessible. We stopped off at Purakaunui falls and had the whole place to ourselves. These falls are said to be the most photographed, I think they mean in NZ not the world but I could be wrong. I have seen the falls various times before, in pictures, but to actual see it first hand and to hear the water was something else.
A bit further along the unsealed roads we came upon Florence hill. We looked around for a few minutes and then got back on the road. There is so much to see in Southland, we had to push on to get the rest done in day light. The next stop was at Jack’s Blowhole. This involved a short walk through fields of sheep, following some yellow markers, until finally you leave the fields over a sty and come across a massive hole in the ground (fenced off of course). There is a platform for viewing, we watched several waves of white water come crashing through the hole and sending spray flying up in the air. After
You can see how harsh the winds are just by looking at the trees!
a while and large amounts of picture taking we followed the track back to the car park. On the way we bumped into John, Emma and James. They are fellow Brit’s also travelling around in a camper. (Hi you guys, hope the travelling is going well?). After talking to them for quite some time about past adventures we set off towards Nugget point. On the way we were lucky enough to see some Yellow-eyed penguins. Near Roaring bay there is a hide and Thommo and I went in not really expecting to see much but we thought it was worth a short wait. After a few minutes Thommo shouts ‘Penguin!” It was only wishful thinking though and a large seagull! To our delight a few minutes later one brave little penguin came in on the surf and after flipping up onto his legs he ran across the beach and up towards the hill side. He was very cautious and kept looking around for things. It was not long till we were joined by John, Emma and James. More penguins approached and made their way up the hill side. I think we saw about 8 different one’s make it across and
Looking out to sea. At the bottom of the picture you can just about make out the fossilised forest.
more were coming in with the surf as we left. This was the first time either of us have seen penguins in the wild.
The next stop was Nugget Point, were the stacks are very beautiful when lit up by the late evening sun. We took the short walk from the car park and had a look around the lighthouse and into the sea. Nugget Point gets its name from the large number of stacks scattered off the coast. On the way back to the car park we used James’ binoculars to watch some massive seals playing around on the cliff’s edge.
The sun was fading fast and we tried to make it round the Kaka Pont to watch the sunset, however we were slightly too late. We then drove on to Balclutha and found a fairly nice campsite to settle down for the night in.
I really enjoyed the scenery the Southland has to offer and am so glad we ventured that far. To be honest most people we met miss that part out due to time restrictions. I would definitely recommend that anyone with the time goes the distance and bears with the bumpy unsealed
Took us a while to find this little gem.
roads. The van was so dirty after the muddy roads but it was worth all the effort just to see the beautiful coast line facing the Foveaux strait and the little penguins in there natural habitat.
Onwards to Dunedin……………………
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