I’m really bad at this whole updating my blog thing. I apologize for that. I have had a few people now asking when my next post would be up so I figured I should get on it. So here it goes!!
The rest of my journey through Southland went splendid. I left Curio Bay early in the morning to head towards Invercargill, It wasn’t far away, but there were lots of stops to be made! I Stopped off at the Slope Point first. Slope Point is the most southern part of New Zealand’s South island I sat 5140 kilometres from the equator, and 4803 kilometres from the South Pole. I had to walk twenty minutes through a sheep field in order to reach Slope Point, so unfortunately my trusty Lil Red just had to sit and watch from a distance as I made my way there. It was so cool to stand at that point and look out to the ocean. So peaceful, so alone.
My next stop was at the Waipapa Point Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in 1884, after a passenger steamer had sank just off shore, killing 131 people. The lighthouse is down a long, dirt road. On the beach by the lighthouse there are often many sea lions resting. There were a number of them there when I arrived. A few were basking lazily in the sun while others circled, barking away at each other. I crawled around in the sand for a bit, snapping pictures of them and watching them go about their daily lives.
I drove from Waipapa Point, through to Invercargill where I met up with a friend. He hopped in the car and we drove to Bluff together. Bluff is often considered the Southern Extreme of New Zealand, despite Slope Point being more southern. Bluff is the most Southern settlement of the South Island. Just like when I went to Cape Reinga, Bluff has a signpost with major cities and distances listed on it. Unfortunately, the Bluff signpost did not have Vancouver on it. Johno and I walked through some of the trails around Bluff up to the old bunkers from World War II. I dropped Johno home, then went and checked into my hostel. It was a rickety building in the city center. I was on the third floor and decided against being lazy, so I took the stairs every time I went to the lobby or outdoors. This choice may have been influenced by the sign stating that because of it’s age the elevator could stop if you move at all while it’s in motion.
After a good night’s rest I headed off again. I stopped off in the town of Riverton to see the Riverton Rocks. It was a cute town and I was there for a few hours wandering around before heading off to BeachHouse for lunch. If you ever make it to New Zealand and happen to be in Riverton around noon, I insist you go to BeachHouse and order the Blue Cod. It was the best Cod I have ever had. Amazing. Over a month and a half later my stomach is happy just thinking about that meal.
After an extremely satisfying lunch I headed over to Colac Bay. Callum, the Kiwi I went to Glenorchy with, is from Colac Bay and suggested I go there. It was a gorgeous little beach town. I wandered along the sand and sat for a bit on the shore, watching the blue waters, listening to the churning waves, inhaling the salty air. It was so very relaxing.
As I was driving away from Colac Bay I saw a sign for a place called “Cosy Nook”, I thought it sounded cool, so I followed the signs. It was well worth it. There were only 5 little houses huddled up on the shore of the little inlet. It really was quite cosy. Just as you enter the little inlet there is a little outhouse, on the door of the outhouse is painted “Long Drop Lodge- Short Stay Only”. Someone has a sense of humour.
I made a few other stops along the way to my next overnight stop in Tuatapere. The holiday park I stayed at was dead. Apparently I was the first person in months to check in as a single. The rooms were cold and the showers had been shut off in most of the building. It was an eerie night alone, and I was all curled up in bed when there was a knock on my door. I froze up. I heard a woman’s voice calling my name. Which was a little odd as I had met no women there. I crawled out of bed and over to the door. Maree was another guest at the campground. She had just checked in and the owner of the site told her I had been considering heading into the Clifden Caves the next day but was unsure about going alone. She volunteered right away to meet me and come along.
the next morning Maree and I got up bright and early to head into the caves. She was an older woman and was taking a photography course in Invercargill. When we went into the caves I showed her how to change the settings on her camera to take better photos in the caves. We spent nearly four hours in the caves. It was a long trek through and the journey time was not helped by the both of us constantly stopping to snap pictures. It was fun though, and I was glad I had someone to explore the caves with. It’s definitely not something I wanted to do on my own.
I dropped Maree back in town and headed over to Lake Hauroko to do a four hour hike up to a lookout. Lake Hauroko, at 463 metres deep, is New Zealand’s deepest lake. The trail up to the lookout was steep and I was trying to go as quickly as I could. I didn’t start hiking until around 2pm and the sun would set around 5:30. I knew I would want to take a break once I reached the top to be able to take photos. Once I began the hike I realized I had not eaten since the day before. I had a small water bottle which kept me going for the duration of the trek but it left me feeling very nauseous by the end. The view from the top was well worth the hike up through. Just like many parts of this trip, I did not see another soul the entire hike. I drove back home that night and slept well after an exhausting day.
Although I returned home after my hike, this is not where my little trip ends. I packed my car back up in the morning, taking out things I wouldn’t need for one more night on the road, loaded Callum up into my car, and the two of us took off this time. We drove to Dunedin for the night to get in on a bit of the action that was happening with the annual Cadbury Chocolate Carnival. I had learned of this week long carnival over a year before leaving for my trip. It was one of the most anticipated events of my trip. The first day in Dunedin Callum and I just wandered around for a bit. We found a hostel to stay at, booked in, then headed down to the Speights factory. Speights is a pretty popular New Zealand beer and I have drank my fair share of it while here, as they say, “When in Rome…”. The factory tour cost twenty dollars and was an hour long. the end of the tour was the best part. there was a 25 minute brew tasting. It was pour your own tap beer, all you can drink. Callum and I made sure we got our money’s worth from that beer tasting. When the closed up we staggered off to the cinema to catch a movie before crashing out at the hostel.
I wasted no time in the morning getting ready to check out. the day had come. The day I had been waiting for endlessly. The day of the Jaffa race. Each year Cadbury hosts two Jaffa races. They make giant Jaffa Balls (Candy-coated chocolate balls), number them all, sell tickets for the numbered balls, then race them down Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world. Each race has 25 000 Jaffa balls that roll down and funnel out through a small opening at the bottom where the winner is the first ball through the funnel. Although each race only lasts about eight seconds for the balls to reach the bottom, the anticipation was great and was well worth it. I had a great time. The race was the last day of the carnival as well as the last day of my holidays. After that it was back to work I went.
On a more recent note, I have been approved an Australian working holiday visa, and have my flights now booked to Sydney. The application process for my visa was all done online and was super easy. It only took half an hour from the time I sent in my application to the time it was approved. After that was approved I held back a couple weeks before booking a plane ticket, checking flight prices as often as I could. I finally, about a week ago, booked my ticket into Sydney for October 29th. My plane leaves Auckland at 7:30Am. That’s going to be brutal as I have to be at the airport two hours early and have to be up early enough to take public transport from the city center to the airport. I will arrive in Sydney at 9Am. I’ll have my whole first day to explore and check things out. I’m really looking forward to it, however I am still very sad that I will be leaving amazing, beautiful New Zealand in less than two months. Rattling. It has been a most excellent adventure and I know it’s not over quite yet!