After a few crazy days of “where the heck are we” moments, we were back to beautiful outdoor road tripping. We drove into the catlins, an area of the southeastern corner of the island which was filled with forests and other beautiful sights. Our first two stops weren’t far from our campsite. The first was a petrified forest that is also a penguin habitat. This seemed very cool and very promising, however, when we arrived we quickly realized it sounded much cooler than it was. A petrified forest is a forest that has been buried and fossilized in the ground, which is a really cool thing that happens, but not exactly much to see. So we read lots of plaques about it and lots on the penguins. The most important line reading “these penguins are the rarest penguins in the world, only living here in this part of New Zealand. These penguins are best seen at dusk, when they are back from collecting food.
So as I said in an earlier blog post, no penguins on this trip. But here’s a photo fo the ugly penguins that live there.
Disappointed from the first stop we drove on to our second stop, slope point, the most southern part of the South Island. This was a really beautiful spot with a gorgeous coast line. We had to walk through a sheep field to get there. Two little guys started out pretty close to us but quickly headed back to the rest of the pack. So close. Standing at the point we were 4000 km away from the south pole. It was weird to think about how close to Antarctica we were and how it was across the ocean we were staring at.
We entered the Catlins Forest Park and made a few stops in there. My favourite being the Purakaunui Falls walk. It was huge and beautiful and hidden in this massive forest. It was the warmest day it had been in a while so we were in t shirts, but when we entered the forest we were immediately transported to a jungle. The forest was freezing because the trees created these dark canopies that let no light in. You would never know driving on the highway that this place is only a 20 minute walk away. The waterfall was huge and beautiful. They really amaze me, something so beautiful and perfect can just happen naturally on it’s own. This one was even more impressive because it has created these perfect 90 degree falls and steps leading up to the top.
Afterwards we had lunch in the car park, making our fav sandwiches with the game changing mustard. We drove on, making a few smaller stops throughout the park.
Then as we continued to our last destination of the day we hit a detour. As I’ve said before about New Zealand, there is usually only one road to everywhere. So if a road is blocked then there aren’t many other options. So we went on a long detour along some nice gravel country roads. One perk was these sheep pics we stopped to get. Of course we had seen lots of sheep like this before, but never in such a concentrated space. So here are some stereotypical photos of what you probably think New Zealand looks like.
After our detour we made it back to the coast and start heading north again. Our last stop of the day was a place called nugget point. We drove along the coast seeing the lighthouse in the distance. It was a nice walk up to this point and the weather was really nice as well. The point has all these rocks that stick out of the water right at the point of the coast. Someone obviously called them nuggets and so we have the name “nugget point”. It was similar to Cape Reinga with the significant Maori history and with beautiful plaques lining the walkway with little poems about all the history. It was breathtaking and beautiful and a perfect activity to end on.
After our evening there we needed to find a campsite and eat some dinner. Our plan had been to finish off all the food we still had since our trip days were numbered. The night before we had sanwiches and we were going to have soup that night. Before we got in the car I went to the bathroom and when I came back my friends said “so we were thinking of getting real food” and that was the best thing I’d heard all day. So we headed to the nearby town, Kaka point. We found a restaurant, got some beers, and ordered greasy delicious food. I got nachos, and it was the best decision I made all day.
Afterwards we headed to a nearby campsite. It was a mans farm property, the office was his house and he obviously did everything himself. He was the happiest man I’ve ever spoken to. When I walked in to inquire about staying he said “have you been here before?” and I was like “uh definitely not”. He then went on for a bit how he could have sworn some other Canadian girl who looked like me had been there a few times. I was mostly shocked that he had consistent customers. The best part of the whole campsite were the sheep on property. They were the cutest and were just chilling in a pen a few feet from where we parked and set up Shelley. We did our own thing for a bit before the sun went down, I read. Then we were hanging by the fence looking at the sheep when the man came out with some feed and let us feed and pet the sheep.
Best. Campsite. Ever.
He introduced us to his prize winning sheep, pinky, and his funny looking (but cuter) sheep, smudge. I really liked smudge, and felt like the name fit him really well. But he left quickly. Pinky obviously liked the attention so he stuck around a bit and I tried to take a picture with him, it didn’t go so well.
This one is pinky and the guy in the back is smudge. He kinda looks like a dog.
Then we saw the most beautiful sky on our entire trip.
We played our regular cards and then went to our tent to go to bed.
The next morning we drove to Dunedin, the biggest city in the South Island. It had been weeks since we’d been in a real city, so when we arrived in the city centre and got out of our car, we realized we weren’t exactly dressed to be society again. But we didn’t care. It was also warm. It hadn’t been warm in days, but we were hot in our sweaters and pants. So we changed then went to a cafe and sat outside for a while. I had a mediocre smoothie and a phenomenal scone.
We decided to take advantage of the weather so we drove to tunnel beach. A beach that requires walking through a tiny tunnel to enter.
We spent some time on the beach but then laid out in the sun above the beach for hours.
The afternoon was much needed, I was exhausted and really just wanted some downtime to myself, and the sun was everything I wanted. We ate some food and then went back into the city. We went to the domain to walk around the botanical gardens , but it was pretty dark so we didn’t see much. We did find birds though. There is a giant bird display and boy were they loud.
That night we were staying at one of Rachel’s friends places, our only night not in Shelley. Rachel knew a girl who was on exchange in Dunedin and when we told her we were coming she offered her living room to us, so I got to sleep on a couch for a night and it was wonderful.
The next morning we left Dunedin and started back to ward the centre of the island, but you’ll have to wait to hear the end another day.