Bottom Bus - Dunedin to InvercargillJune 30, 2015 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 79 °F
The dawn sky turned empiric purple to orange rust as we left Dunedin and Massive Attack's 'Teardrop' played on the stereo. We followed logging trucks through a green landscape filled with sheep farms, passing farmers on quad bikes with their dogs shepherding flocks.
On our way to Invercargill we made a series of stops along the wild southern coast. The first stop was Kaka Point where bull kelp, like giant strands of tagliatelle, lay over the hard wet sand. Only the breathing of the waves and the occasional squawk from a gull could be heard as the water glittered off the sunlight. We hiked up to the lighthouse, which overlooked a rocky outcrop where seals danced amongst the surging white water.
We moved on to Cannibal Bay, so called because decapitated skeletal remains were found there by early explorers. This is quite plausible as Maori would decapitate the head of their defeated enemy chief before boiling and eating it to obtain the deceased chief's 'mana' or power. We planned to walk along to beach in search of sea lions that be viewed there. However the tide was too high, rushing in to foam at our feet so we could be certain that the beach was impassable.
After this we went to Curio Bay, where from an exposed outcrop we were thrust sideways by the wind as huge waves charged the coastline, smashing skyward as they met rock face. Again we searched for sea lions but unfortunately saw none. At the nearby petrified forest, so called because the fossilised remains of ancient trees are embedded in the rock, we sought out the rare yellow eyed penguins that nested there.
Carefully picking our way over rocks slick with sea water and kelp we stood patiently to see if any penguins would appear from the waters. The wind wrapped around us and the sea relentlessly battered rocks on the shoreline but no penguins appeared. Our noses grew cold and our hands numb but still no penguins. Just as we were ready to surrender one solitary penguin threw themselves up out of the surf and waddled across the rocks to the flax lining the bay. We were lucky to be able to see such a rare and shy bird but we felt luckier still to be back in the shelter of our bus and on our way to Invercargill.
The cold cramped overpriced hostel did little to lift our spirits in the dark wet evening. However it was for only one night and the shared experience brought camaraderie our fellow travellers. Inside sarcastic laughter echoed off the walls whilst outside the wind howled and clouds wept.Read more