We drove away from from Te Anua on a 2 day loop that took us to the very south of south island, and then back to within 50k of where we started, about 500k in total.
The weather was overcast and dreary, but the scenery was still pretty good. We headed down to Invercargill, a nice little town on the very southern tip where we grabbed a sandwich and had lunch in the rose garden within the botanic gardens (everywhere seems to have a botanic garden).
We carried on a little further south until we got to Slope Point, the most southerly point of South Island, and as far away from home as we were going to get on this trip (next stop Antartica). Along the coast we stopped at Curio Bay, where we watched dolphins from the beach.
It was then on through the Catlins, a beautiful area along the coast, great roads through forests and a visit to a couple of waterfalls we had been reccommended.
Then to our Motel at Kaka point. The motel room was a bit dated, but it was larg, clean and had everything we needed, including a great view, a massive improvement on our previous few nights stay.
Next morning and another long drive. First stop was the lighthouse at Nugget Point, via a 20 minute drive on an unpaved road, I was glad that we were in an old hire car, if you had a new one it would have been ruined by this drive. Just down from there is Roaring bay, where we tried to view some penguins, but this isn’t the time of year for them, did see a few seals though.
We headed North, back towards the Southern Alps and the weather started to get better. We had lunch on our own by a river next to the road, then on through a couple of very nice little towns including Cromwell which was flooded in the 70s to create the Clyde Dam (which is impressive in itself).
A large chunk of old Cromwell is under there
A few miles on, we turned off the road to the see the ghost town of Bendigo. In hindsight this was a mistake, miles off the beaten track on poor gravel roads, up a mountain with some truly scary drops, to see a sparse collection of barely there stone buildings, I think this site may have been oversold! However, the views from up there were excellent and we were fortunate enough not to meet a car on the single lane track either on the way up or down!
From there we drove through the Lindis Pass, another amazing road climbing through valleys, and we stopped at the roads highest point (every other car seems to be stopping there) to take in the magnificent view – again, pictures cannot do this justice.
Finally we arrived in Twizel, a town only built in the 70s to house the workers on yet another Dam, once complete the young families who lived there wanted to stay, and it is now a centre for tourism. Our home for 3 days was a tatty old pre-fab home, obviously a probate house rented out to make the kids a few bob. I’ve never seen so many old ornaments and tut, but it was maninly clean, and nothing like the abonomation at Tea Anua.
Next day we headed to Mount Cook, for a walk into the Hooker Pass, the drive there was again spectacular (I’m running out of superlatives for New Zealand). The walk was beautiful, but really hot, we couldn’t get over the fact that there was snow just above us, but the peace and quiet was often brocken by the loud crack of small avalanches as the snow melted and shiftet (though nowhere near us).
That night I drove to lake Pukaki, the whole area is in a designated dark zone, so when you drive out of town the dark seems impenitrable, and the stars are spectacular, you can see the milky way from one horizon to another, I cant imagine seeing anything like that again, but I hope I do.
Next day we went to Lake Tokapai, took a long walk which we cuts short due to the heat (so hot), but we had lunch at a lovely spot in the forest by the lake, we saw the Church of the Good Shepherd by the lake and checked out the statue of the dog next to it.
That evening, as a treat for the 25% refund we got from Te Anua, we went for a hot tub in the evening at a small town called Omarama, the wooden hot tubs are heated by wood burners, we watched gliders flying overhead and the amazing clouds as they made their way across the sun, a great way to end our time here before we headed on to Christchurch and ultimately our flight to LA!
We’re missing it already!