We had a ‘bit’ of a break from the whole hiking and biking thing in Dunedin where we stayed with Ruth’s old nursing and flat mate, Stephanie, and her husband Peter. Ruth got the opportunity to relive old times while I enjoyed talking to Peter about the future while reviewing his extensive and impressive sculpture pieces which he has carefully documented over his long career.
Four short nights later, we were back on the road and after 3,00km we are into our final leg of the car generally pointing in a southerly direction.
The weather has been much cooler but not too wet. Most days have been mid-teens temperature wise with the occasional foray (usually only one day) into the late twenties or even 30s. Yesterday was 27c with a 60km wind; shorts and t-shirts weather. Today is 12c; long johns, woolly hats and dreams of summer.
It is remote down here in the area called ‘The Catlins‘. We have not phone coverage, no internet, no petrol, no ATMs, no EFTPOS, no shops, no Trump. But there are rare Hectors Dolphins which have been keeping us entertained, seals that photo bomb your Hectors Dolphin shots, penguins that keep you guessing as to when they will appear, beautiful beaches with suicidal surfers (you have to be on a death-wish to swim here), some amazing scenery and roads that lack vehicles. In balance, it is not too bad, a great place to visit (but not live).
This morning we headed out to the most southerly land point in the South Island, Slope Point. Just like Cape Reinga in the North, Bluff is not the most southerly point. However, Slope Point is well off the beaten track, very weather beaten, most of the trees are almost horizontal to the ground. When you finally claw your way across the farm (the wind does not want you to reach your destination) to the actual point, there is a sign that simply tells you what you are only too well aware of; that you are closer to the South Pole than the Equator
We have been staying in one of the population centres down here, Waikawa. I estimate the population at around 10 or so hardy souls. But despite that, they have a great fish and chip caravan, a museum and, a few kilometers down the road a very nice restaurant. Not sure if we will get a chance to try it but I may persuade Ruth to shout me a flat white there tomorrow, I am suffering withdrawal from my daily fix.
We decided to brave the bone chilling cold and head out to Curio Bay after dinner and see if we could catch any rare Yellow Eyed Penguins returning from a day’s fishing. To say it was bitterly cold was being generous. Honestly, these penguins need to see a shrink or get a humongous mortgage and move to Auckland . Apart from the cold, their commute requires the negotiation of some seriously inhospitable terrain. THe wait in the cold was worth it and we did get to see and appreciate the natural challenges facing these brave birds, not to mention the man made ones that is steadily wiping them out.
It is hailing very heavily outside at present. We are pleased that we chose to visit in summer.