This morning we visited Queens Park in Invercargill, where Solana enjoyed the aviaries and small animal enclosures - but rain stopped play when we reached the play park area! We headed back onto the Southern Scenic Route, this time driving North from Invercargill. We stopped on a headland near the town of Riverton for a picnic lunch - but the weather was still a bit wild (wet, windy & chilly), so we made it a "car picnic". Whilst there, we saw the amazing sight of a very large flock of seabirds (black petrels we think) feeding on what must have been an even larger shoal of fish just beneath the surface. There were many hundreds of birds feeding and more kept arriving the whole time we were there, so that in the end there must have been a couple of thousand birds, making shallow dives into the water to feed - fascinating to watch. As we drove away, we also saw a spoonbill feeding in the estuary. Clearly our lunchtime coincided well with that of the birdlife today! Our next stop was at Gemstone Beach, where we had a windy but mostly dry walk - although we didn't find any gemstones. We stayed in a cabin on campsite/holiday park - cheaper than a hotel/motel but still with en suite plus kettle & toaster. It was ideal for us and I think we'll be staying in more places like this. Best of all the site had a "kangaroo jumper" - like a giant trampoline, that we all enjoyed bouncing on before dinner!.We enjoyed a tasty dinner in a nearby restaurant, before an evening walk down by Te Anau Lake.Read more
Yesterday we spent the day in Dunedin, stocking up on cheap travel stuff & a few warmer clothes (thanks to June for the tip about Warehouse) and groceries (thanks to Wendy for the tip about Pak n Save!). We also visited the Otago Settlers Museum and the botanical gardens, spending an enjoyable hour or two in each. We are now entering the 2nd half of our “big adventure” – and hoping that the 2nd half will be as enjoyable as the first half has been....
This morning, the time came to leave the comfort and hospitality of June & Dave and head out on our own again. Thank you so much again to June & Dave for a really lovely few days, with our spacious en suite room, full board, free WiFi and kids toys, great company and our own personal and knowledgeable tour guides – easily the best “hotel” we’ve stayed in on our trip so far!
We set off on the Southern Scenic Route – as the name suggests, this is a longer but more scenic road, following the coast South and West from Dunedin. The weather today was significantly cooler, about 12C, and breezy at times. Our first stop was Kaka Point, where we had a delicious picnic of sushi, bread & cheese, with a view. A bit further on we saw a sea lion lounging around on the beach – great to see. We did short walks at Nugget Point and Roaring Bay – one to a penguin hide but there were no penguins to be seen (a bit early for them, as they don’t usually head up to land until later in the afternoon). The roads were mostly good but a few were gravel tracks, including one 14km detour on a gravel road – we’re working our rental car hard! Along the way we encountered a farmer moving her sheep – there were dozens of them all over the road but she told us to just “keep left, keep driving, they’ll move”! We couldn’t drive on for laughing at the sight of at least 200 sheep all around the car – it was like passing through a sea of sheep, with all their faces looking up at us as they passed by! We did a short walk to Purakaunui waterfall, through some native forest (which looks like the kind of vegetation you imagine was widespread when the dinosaurs were roaming the Earth). In the early evening we visited Curio Bay and we managed to reach there around low tide, so we got to see the amazing petrified forest on the beach – dozens of tree trunks, all fossilised in the rocks – amazing to see. Whilst there, we were also lucky enough to see a yellow-eyed penguin coming ashore for the night – we saw it waddling all the way across the rocks – a magical sight. We finally reached Invercargill around 7:30pm, ate tasty fish & chips (which seem to be a pretty cheap and tasty meal here, so I’m sure it won’t be the first time we eat f n cs), then spent the night in a motel on the edge of town.Read more