I believe I left off my account of this journey heading to Dunedin.
The first night was spent in a cabin on the ferry, cost forty dollars, and was perfectly comfortable except for the fact that it was on a moving vessel, hence the interrupted sleep.
The second night was at a top ten in Christchurch, cost $39, and was acceptable for the price. The tent site was big enough, but the kitchen facilities could have been better.
The third night was at the top ten in Dunedin. An unpowered tent site there cost $46. It was lucky we were sleeping in the car, because there wouldn’t have been any room for a tent. The facilities weren’t very good there either, particularly the toilets. Not recommended.
After Dunedin we drove down to Bluff via the Southern Scenic route. The Cathedral Caves are well worth a visit. They are absolutely amazing. L. took lots of photos and a video which I’ll post when we get home. If anybody reading this ever goes through the Catlins, you have to stop and have a look. Make sure you’re going by at the right time, because the gates open and close two hours before and two hours after low tide respectively. Photos cannot really do them justice.
We also attempted to see Niagara Falls. Don’t bother. L. reckons the wheels of the car are slightly unaligned due to the very rough road we went down to try to get to them. They weren’t there anyway. Apparently the falls are right at the beginning, and someone was having a laugh when they named it Niagara Falls because it’s a nothing.
We skipped all the other tourist spots after that and carried on to Bluff. There’s a nice lookout, and Stirling Point is pretty cool, but otherwise it felt like a ghost town.We can recommend the banoffee pie at the Drunken Sailor though.
After that we tidied the car and then waited for the five pm ferry to Stewart Island. The journey takes an hour and was a little choppy. It reminded me of Eustace complaining about the stormy weather when first in the Dawn Treader, and Drinian laughing and telling him it was calm as anything. I doubt the locals would have considered it very choppy.
Oban on Stewart Island is a nice little town. We stayed at Bunkers Backpackers, which we can recommend, but not if you don’t like steep stairs. I could touch upper stairs without bending over – it was practically like a ladder!
No reception for either L. or me, but we’re on Vodafone and 2 degrees respectively, so maybe Telecom users would have better luck. At any rate, it didn’t bother us much. After dinner at the South Sea Hotel, where we had Foveaux Straight blue cod and Stewart Island oysters followed by a very yummy raspberry and kiwifruit cheesecake (basically fresh raspberry mousse with fresh kiwifruit chunks in it on a biscuit base), which is all highly recommended by the both of us, we went for a walk down to the beautiful bather’s bay. We’ve got some nice photos of that – it was just before twilight and the moon was rising. A full, big, and bright moon, not a new moon.
The next morning we walked up to the wharf to Ulva Island, where we took a photo of the much closer Iona Island. Then we had crepes (L. had chocolate and banana and I had apple and cinnamon) and coffee for breakfast at the Kiwi/French crêperie opposite the hotel. Yum. The weather being reasonable, we booked the 12-2.30 marine nature tour, and to kill time we wandered down to Butterfield Beach. I think that was the name, I might be wrong. It was the next one over from Bather’s Bay, if anyone wants to check with google maps.
Down in plenty of time for the cruise. We got to go in the submersible and see the fish and seaweed under water. We also got to see a seal swimming underwater, which was cool. Shortly after that we went back up and transferred to the ferry again to go in and look at all the fur seals above water. Lots of them were babies and very cute.
We got to see lots of shags and two solitary yellow eyed penguins, but one of the coolest bits of the trip was the catch and release fishing. All of us got a go, and all of us caught a blue cod literally within seconds. Photos will be uploaded when I get back home.
After the marine nature cruise finished, we had a late lunch of a blue cod baguette each at the place where we had breakfast, the hotel being closed at the time. There’s also a cool little restaurant on the island, but we didn’t actually go in there this trip.
At 3.20 we boarded the ferry, and at 4.30 we were back in Bluff. With a quick stop for petrol and drinks at Invercargill we were on our way to Milford Sound, and didn’t stop till Te Anau, where we topped up the petrol again and bought two regrettable pies. It turned out that I hadn’t booked properly and that the tent sites had no room for a car, so we stayed in a dorm room. Very helpful staff at Milford Sound Lodge.
Next morning – that is, yesterday morning – we went on a cruise around Milford Sound. It was pretty disappointing, to be honest, but L. says that it’s much cooler when it’s been raining. After a panini at the nearby café, we carried on back down to Te Anau. The chasm was much more interesting than the sound. Look up photos – we were too terrified of losing our phones to take any. Pretty incredible though – it puts Huka Falls to shame. The falls on the path to Lake Marian are also pretty impressive, though not quite as much. I’d like to have gone to Lake Marian but I’m not really fit enough at the moment. I will be though. I’ve signed up for next year’s Around the Bays, and when I get home I’ll start taking my food again with weight watchers.
We went on to the Humboldt Falls. It’s pretty but not really spectacular. I don’t think the 16 km drive and further 15 min walk – one way – is worth it.
Stopped off at a couple if other places on the way, including Mirror Lakes. The water is unbelievably clear, but sadly it looks like didymo is taking over.
We stayed at the Top Ten in Re Anau last night. Forty dollars, nice tent area, flowers everywhere, nice wooden chairs provided, good facilities, and right on the lake front. All in all, highly recommended. We did a much needed load of laundry for seven dollars, washed and dried.
This morning we headed to Queenstown, and that’s where we are now. L. has just woken up from his siesta now, so I’ll update again later – maybe tomorrow, maybe later than that.
Tschuss for now.