Sunday, April 24, 2016

Day 82: The Incredible Catlin Coast Continued

Nugget Point turned out to make it on my list of most favourite places in New Zealand. There was something so beautiful about the lighthouse, the cliffs, the roar of the waves of the ocean crashing up against the surrounding rocks and the distant sounds of the seals calling out.

After tumbling rather painfully to the muddy ground when I only had about three feet of hillside to descend after doing some off trail exploring (pictured above). The fall just made for a good story and startled a kind couple (thankfully they were the only other people around in that moment). 
We then waited a half hour to see these two Yellow-eyed Penguins waddle up on shore.

These little creatures are easily scared off. We stood waiting in the shelter huts built to keep us "hidden" and well away from the shore where the penguins return to after a long day of fishing. The two hour wait after seeing these two and one other in hope of seeing more penguins was not quite worth it due to all the wind and number of other people crowding around to see out the limited windows. 

We abandoned post and headed back out on the road to try to find a place to sleep the night. And so began the adventure of being offered clean sheets, proper toilets and a warm house to enjoy by a kind local passing by our vehicle as we had stopped to photograph some deer. We were treated to the wonderful hospitality of a local family living in Balclutha for the weekend. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Day 80: The Incredible Catlin Coast

The first night on the Catlin Coast started out with a night at a randomly discovered free roadside campsite in the small town of Fortrose and it was a beautiful experience with a gorgeous sunset. 
Then waking up at the crack of dawn to find an incredible moon set happening where the sun had set the night before. Never have I seen such a moon set. We were absolutely mesmerized by its beauty. 
And to make the moon set experience even more incredible, the sun began rising in the east as the moon was setting in the west. Absolutely amazing experience. 
The Catlins Coastline is a very dangerous coastline for boats and has a history of many shipwrecks.   The first stop was at Waipapa Point Lighthouse, which began operating in 1884 in response to a tragic ship wreck that killed 130 people. Along with all the other lighthouses seen up to this point it was a beautiful piece of coast, with a gorgeous beach to enjoy. 

Slope Point was next on the list of stops. Being the most southerly point of New Zealand's South Island. Surrounded by fields of sheep, wind swept trees and incredible views of the rocky coastline and cliffs. Slope Point was not all that exciting but still a beautiful part of the Catlin Coast.

Curio Bay ended up being more interesting than I thought it would be with the fossil forest there which is said to be 180 million or so years old. It was actually quite fascinating to see the petrified logs look one with the rocks surrounding them.

And then we found the Niagra Falls of New Zealand. It was spectacularly underwhelming, riduculous and the "falls" were non-existent...the laughs were definitely worth the stop. 

Dinner time at Florence Hill Lookout followed by a gorgeous sunset. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Day 79: All the Way Down South

One of the fun games to play while on the road and passing through many towns is attempting to figure out how they are pronounced. Unless you hear a local say the name it is unlikely that I will ever know how many of the places we passed through are pronounced but I am just fine with that. Keeping some mystery in life keeps it interesting.

We spent the night in a random picnic area with a massive tree right in the middle of clearing that looked like a tear drop. It kept us fascinated for quite some time and imagining all the things it could be with the moonlight highlighting the outline of the tree. I have never seen a tree shaped so perfectly like that before. In the morning we drove towards Tuatapere and came across Clifdon caves. We of course stopped and explored. We had the caves to ourselves for the most part. There were amazing stalagmites and stalactites AND glow worms. Such incredible creatures. The cave unfortunately had a lot of vandalism in it which was really sad. You could see the degradation from it all. Very sad actually and infuriating. Some people just have absolutely no respect for nature.
We next found Clifden's Suspension Bridge, built in 1898 over the Waiau River. Nothing spectacular but it holds the name of New Zealand's longest suspension bridge still in existence. Surprisingly enough it does not also hold the "most unique longest suspension bridge" as well.
Because I get it in my head that I always have to stop and see things everywhere I go. So Blue Cliffs Beach was next on our list of stops. It was a very beautiful area. We had to trudge through poo laden pastures, 3 to be exact, over extra muddy and wet ground from all the recent rain, ensuring we closed all the gates as we passed through to get to the actual beach. It was worth it, for me at least, I was wearing footwear that did not matter if it got wet. My dear friend was unfortunately wearing his shoes that seemed to never be able to dry...And even with the insane amount of attacking beastly sandflies. Still worth it. Always worth it.

On to Monkey Island, our perfectly timed and randomly found free campsite, surrounded by beautiful farmland and complete with a gorgeous view. According to the signs at the site it is called Monkey Island apparently monkeys were used back in the day to pull in the boats carrying the cargo to shore. Now, I am not sure how true this story is as it sounds rather far fetched but if New Zealand is willing to post it on a sign then there must be some truth to it. Monkey Island itself was said to be used as a lookout by whalers looking for their next catch. Not the biggest lookout to find whales if you ask me. 

THEN we went to Bluff, which we thought was the most south we could get but we were mistaken. We went to the Maritime Museum in Bluff, which turned out to be more interesting than thought. We had to rush through 3/4 of the place because they closed early. Slope Point is the southern most point of of the South Island. We made a very quick stop there because the place was crawling with tourists.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Day 77: Milford Sound

The Fiordlands have a reputation around the country. On our way there I was hoping they would live up to the stories I had heard about how amazing  they were. Fortunately enough we stayed at a campsite not too far into our journey into the sounds. The campsite proved to provide us with absolutely beautiful views of the sunset on our first night along the sounds. 

Milford Sound is the northern most end of Fiordland National Park. There is a Maori legend that Milford Sound and the whoe Fiordland Coast was created by an atua (godly figure) named Tu-te-raki-whanoa. It is believed that he carved the rock walls of the Fiordlans with his adze (axe).

We stopped along our way back to our campsite and found the Chasm. Only a short walk, to the wonderful art of mother nature. Thousand of years of water rushing through this valley left the rocks marked. There were incredible shapes and tunnels created by the water rushing through. Seriously fascinating.

Splurging for a cruise along the Milford Sound meant we had an extra day in the area so we had some time to explore some of the area. We wandered a bit and then found our way to Gertrude Valley.

And the cruise proved to be worth it...

The fairy falls were my favorite. I could have sat and looked at these falls for hours and hours. They were so beautiful. The stream of water was steady and it fell off the cliff as if it were fairy dust. So incredibly beautiful. The pictures do not do them justice at all.