Monday, December 28, 2009

The Catlins from Beginning to End

There is just too much to do, see, and experience here in the time that we have.  We knew that coming into this and told ourselves that whatever happens we can’t go wrong.  It was a wonderful day and what we chose were great things – I just wish for more time to linger.

We were in desperate need to do laundry, so we catching up on real life delayed us from leaving the holiday park early.  I did a little google search on Invercargill and found that Hayes Hardware has a some of the Burt Munro memorabilia.  It was indeed a hardware store of the Ace Hardware style (you’dve gone nuts Daddy).  The difference was periodically among the shelves there was an antique motorcycle.  image Towards the back, there was the No 35 Munro Special that Burt raced in the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.  He built the bike himself and was able to get it past 178 mph at the Bonneville Speed week in the 1960s.  (Oops, I just ruined the movie for ya’!)

imageFrom there we headed east following the Scenic Southern Drive into the Catlins.  Our first stop was Slope Point.  You ever think you’ve done something and then realize you really didn’t?  Turns out that Bluff is not the most southern point of the South Island.  It’s just where Highway 1 ends (or as Bluff puts it – it’s where Highway 1 begins…).  It turns out that Slope Point is actually the most southern point on the South Island.  So of course we HAD to go there.  There were no bragging rights on Bluff once we learned that fact!  image Not far from Slope Point is the Curio Bay with it’s extensive and well preserved Jurrassic fossilized forest.  It turns out that during the Jurrassic era there was a forest here on the coast.  Volcanic ash rish in silica washed down with the rain.  The trees absorbed it which caused them to petrify within months.  The entire area was flooded with ash and soil.  Some of the trees fell into this muck.  The sea began to erode the soil away leaving the petrified stumps and logs to be revealed.  This is best viewed at low tide – and fortunately it was when we arrived.  Timing is everything!                                   image image We wandered back north a bit to the main highway and chose a little adventure across it to a llama & sheep farm.  Sheep farm after sheep farm are piled upon each other as we head down the road.  We went out of our way to get to this one because they raise Gotland Sheep.  The route took three gravel roads to find the farm.  We did spot what we think could be a takahe which is another flightless bird that was thought to be extinct in New Zealand.  How many big blue birds could there be with a big red beak in New Zealand?   Comments?image I was able to purchase a 100g skein of the naturally colored yarn.  It’s a soft grey and I love it.  Janette also sells fleece, skins, and even handmade clothing under the line “The Hidden Valley”.                imageThe afternoon was quickly passing into evening and we were only halfway through the Catlins.  We made one last choice on what to see.  The very end of the Catlins is at Nugget Point where there is a number of seals, spoonbills, shags and gulls.  These we did see with the aid of binoculars.  There also have been reports of Hector dolphins, gannets and the yellow eyed penguins.  These we did not see in any way shape or form – but tomorrow is another day.  The walk was worth it for the views.

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Life Looms Large said...

Kudos to your husband for driving down multiple gravel roads to a sheep farm!!

That area looks like there could be gannets, with the cliffs. We went to a spectacular gannet colony in Newfoundland once. Too bad I wasn't a blogger back then!

Another gorgeous set of photos....I'm so impressed that you're blogging steadily!!

Have fun!

Thomas said...

Hi Jennifer and James,
The blue/black bird with the white tails and the red beak are called Pukeko. They are a swamp hen, and are found throughout NZ, and also in Australia. The Pukeko is one of my favourite birds.


Jennifer said...

Thanks Tom on the Pukeko! We found pictures of them on the tile in the laundry room here in Dunedin and went to ask at the reception desk. It is a great bird!

Thanks Sue - there is a lot of driving that allows me to do some of the info to keep up. Mostly my incentive is to journal for us. I already struggle to remember what I did two days ago!