Hi Everybody! Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving and ate lots of turkey with all the fixings. I know I wish I could have been there to partake in the feast, and to watch some football, but that’s all right. I actually bought meat for the first time, sausages to be exact, and ate them with baked beans in tomato sauce and garlic bread. Prolly doesn’t sound too great, but it is was really good and my stomach ached from eating too much. That’s what it’s all about right? =)
Anyway, the last few days have been quite busy as I make my way back up north to pick up the parents in a week. So I’ve been all over the southern part of the south island ‘ticky-touring’ or having a ‘walkabout’ as they would say here to places such as Milford Sound, Slope Point, Curio Bay, McLean Falls, Cathedral Caves, Nugget Point, Dunedin, Moeraki, Oamaru (Penguins), and now Fairlie.
Milford Sound – It took a while for the weather to clear up, but it finally did and allowed for a wonderful day in New Zealand’s best known attraction, and only Sound that is accessible via a car. I could describe this place, but feel a picture would do it more justice.
This one is kind of small, but there is more pictures to be seen in my pic and 360 section. To the left center is the most photographed peak that appears in all the books, Mitre Peak.
Slope Point - This is New Zealand’s southernmost point of the South Island. The equator is 5140km from it, and the South Pole is a 4803km away.
Curio Bay - Here is where Hector Dolphins can be found most often, which are the world’s smallest dolphin and I think they maybe endangered as well. The sea was rough that day so I failed to see any, but did come across a 180 million year-old petrified forest in the bedrock leading out to the ocean. There were trees and stumps strewn about in reckless order that seemed very well preserved given their age.
McLean Falls - Just a short hike up to these nice falls on a trail created by local high school kids.
Cathedral Caves - These were impressive caves off the south coast formed from the tide coming in and out daily, and therefore only accessible during low tide. As the name implies these caves were huge with ceilings reaching 35-40 feet in height (maybe more, I’m just guessing). A couple of the caves even joined together creating a u-shape and spitting you out on a different section of the beach when you came out.
Nugget Point - Here massive land forms jutted out into the ocean with a tint of gold to them giving them their name, and creating a very dangerous point for boats crossing by. So a lighthouse was present on the point on as well. I was hoping to be able to go inside it, but it was fenced off and according to a sign was all controlled remotely from Wellington since 1989 when the last lighthouse dude retired.
Dunedin - This seemed like a very pretty and appealing town as I was pulling in for the night, but as I was doing so I got pulled over for a speeding ticket. This upset me to where I only felt like driving more and continued on to Oamaru. I think I’m over it now though………
Oamaru - Penguins! Penguins! Penguins! What more can I say? Here in the town of Oamaru they have a blue penguin colony. I believe the penguins are somewhat threatened, but are thriving in the area thanks to the protection they receive. The penguins go out all day to the ocean fishing and screwing around, and come back to their homes on land in the dusk. It was sweet to see them coming in in the distance singularly and in small group called “rafts”. They looked funny paddling in on their white stomach with their heads sticking above the water like a duck, but when they dove they could quickly dart and move about with such grace and ease. They rode waves into the shore and beached themselves on their stomachs until the water cleared allowing them to promptly stand up and waddle clear of the next wave (hopefully). They then formed small groups to ascend up the rock hillside and run to their homes. The ones who arrived early waited at first for it to become darker before making their move. Once at their homes they went through a ritual where they stood outside their entrances and announced they were back by standing as tall as possible, flippers spread wide and squawking obnoxiously. If their mate was inside they’d do the same. Kind of like saying, “honey, I’m home” I guess. Wish I could have gotten some better pictures; they turned out most blurry as I was taking them from the hip since cameras were prohibited, but it was still great to see some 200 odd penguins, which was as little as 48 nine years ago before they were protected, and I’m glad I got to because I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in real life except maybe when I was a little kid at the zoo, but don’t recall it.
Now I’m in a small town called Fairlie not rushing around, and happy to be back in the tent and not sleeping in the car again. I plan to make more stop in Hamner Springs before crossing back to the North Island and meeting my parents in Auckland.