Oct 17th- 20th
We drove 3 and half hours from Milford Sound down to the bottom of New Zealand to Invercargill. We checked into Central City Camping Park for $33 for us both, with complimentary internet but only 100mb which really is not a lot at all. It was centrally located- as the name suggests and we had a lovely plot and it had a big, basic kitchen and living area. We ended up booking 3 nights as the weather wasn't looking good and we heard there were going to be 100km winds, so we didn't want bad weather as we travelled around the coast, so thought we'd have a few lazy days here. In the end the weather didn't come to much and we took a drive out to Bluff, New Zeland's lands end. We scaled Bluff Hill Lookout at Stirling Point, we had gorgeous views out across the land and water. Invercargill and Bluff were some of the first settlements by arrivals into New Zealand from the United Kingdom.
Back in Invercargill we visited Trip Advisors No1 in Invercargill 'Ehays' which has historic cars and also a hardware come gift shop, good idea but rubbish.
On the pouring wet day we headed to the library where we abused the free wifi, then the rain dried off we headed out to watch a lovely sunset.
We spent a lot of time going to Couplands, a bakery which is a chain around the South Island, and have great cookies and pies.
Around Invercargill there are some pretty sites such as the 1889 water tower, which would provide great views but it is disused as it's not earthquake proof. And the stunning St Mary's basilica.
Now the best thing we done in Invercargill was to visit The Southland Museum and Art Gallery. Where we seen Burt Munroe's racing car, artefacts on the southern pole expeditions and the amazing Tuatara which are reptiles endemic to New Zealand, once living all over earth and became extinct along with dinosaurs 60-65 millions years ago- except in New Zealand.. Although resembling most lizards, they are representatives of a lineage stretching back 225 million years! Their name derives from the Māori language, and means "peaks on the back".
Leaving Invercargill we stuck to the coast and drove though The Catlins which is a mix of rural New Zealand native forests, cliffs, golden beaches, lighthouses and wildlife such as penguins and sea lions.
Waipapa lighthouse, where the SS Tararua sank in 1881. The worst worst civilian shipwreck in NZ. Tried to spot sea lions.
Slope point, the South Islands most southernly point. There is no road to Slope Point; it must be reached by a 20-minute walk through fields, no public access during the lambing season (September – November). And twisted trees formed by the winds.
Curio Bay - 180 million year old fossilised forest, trees turned to stone along the bay.
Spectacular McLean Falls. 40 mins return walk.
Florence Hill Lookout.
Surat Bay, where sea lions are found lazing on beach, just stay at least 10 feet away from them and don't block their path into the water. Amazing experience.
Purakaunui Falls. NZ's most photographed falls. 20 mins return walk.
Nugget Point is one of the most distinctive landforms along the Otago coast. It's a steep headland with a lighthouse and a scattering of rocky islets (The Nuggets). Look out for gannets seals, sealions, and penguins.
Left the gorgeous Catlins and made our way to Dunedin.