A Travellerspoint blog

Dunedin - Invercargill

Along Catlins with full nature focus

overcast 15 °C

I left Dunedin going south along the motorway. The area is mostly flat surrounded with low hills all covered by paddocks of cattle, sheep and red deer. At Balclutha I turned off the motorway towards the coast and followed the South Scenic Road. First stop was at Nugget Point which is a lighthouse situated on a cliff very exposes to the weather with hard wind and water waves. Here you can get a great view over the coast and see all kind of wildlife with furseals resting and seagull and spoonbills nesting. Into the car again to the next stop which was the Purakaunui Falls. A short strol into the forrest and then you could see a nice waterfall in three-four levels. Along the South Scenic road some parts followed the coast over green hills with beautiful views over long beaches and deep cliffs falling straight down into the water. I continued to Curio Bay and Porpoise Bay following squiggly gravel road. Felt like I was driving the Swedish Rally and only the deep dark pinewood forest was missing. Well on site I was lucky to see several Hectors dolphines slowly cruising along the beach exposing their dorsal fin when breaking the waterline. So cool!!! At Curio Bay I timed the low tide so I could see the Petrified forrest in the cliff ledge. This is an old forrest where only the fossilised tree trunks in the cliffs remains. Last stop along the Catlins was Waipapa Point where a great beach and sand dunes followed the coastline rounding a lighthouse. A very windswept place where even the pine trees grew crooked. On the beach several sealions were sleeping and also a small cute furseal pup.
This was my full on nature discovery along the Catlins showing of amazing views, variation in structure and all kind of weather within 6 hours from sun to pouring rain and hard wind. As I always say: the weather her in NZ is extremely unpredictable.

Posted by JMarianneL 01:11 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Taieri Gorge Railway

Old fashion train and spectacular views

semi-overcast 15 °C

This day started at the Dunedin Railway station to board the old fashion train to make a half-day train journey from Dunedin to Pukerangi. This 58 km long track followed along the Taieri River and Taieri Gorge. On the way we went over several viaducts, bridges and 12 tunnels, all hand made between 1879-1891. Amazing and spectacular view along the way going from sea level in Dunedin up to 250m at Pukerangi. Along the way the guide informed us of the different points on the track, historical events, family histories and how the workers lived and all facts about the construction of the train track.
Arrived back after a 4,5 hour trip to a rainy Dunedin and relaxed the rest of the day.

Posted by JMarianneL 04:54 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Otago Peninsula

Castle and more nature and animal experiences

semi-overcast 16 °C

First destination for the day was to visit New Zealand's only castle, the Larnach Castle. Build in 1871 it laid on top of the hill looking over Dunedin and the whole Otago Peninsula. Amazing view from the top of the tower and a beautiful flowering garden with all kinds of flowers and trees. Interesting history and story behind the founder and it was very well preserved and restored. Back to Dunedin, down the hill overlooking the harbour and to the hotel for a short rest and change of clothes.
Next adventure was to go further out on the Peninsula to the very end of it. Got pickeup by the wildlife tour minibus at the hotel and headed out along the waterline. Got dropped of to board a boat to go for an hour long trip around the Taiaroa Head to look at the albatross colony from the water, see these magnificant bird glide over my heads and land safely on the hill side in the hard wind. I also saw Black Backed Gull, Royal Spoonbill, Spotted Shag, Little Shag, Stewart Island Shag, Northern Giant Petrel, Sea lion, Furseal and a group of Dusky dolphins. Great trip of animal experience including a very bumpy trip on the water. With safe land under my feet again we drove to the other side of the Peninsula to look at a furseal colony and a Black backed gull colony. Great overview from a hutt and as close as 10m from the colonies. Then we walked over grass covered hills through sheep paddocks to the other side and walked down towards the beach where we were going to look at sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins. On the way down, four yellow-eyed penguins came towards us on the path. Totally unafraid of us when we passed them on a side track and followed them up the path. Suddenly they turned back and came towards us again. They stopped by the main group and stood looking at them from one meter. I was 10 m from the group when they came towards me and stopped right in front of me just a meter away. For 3-4 minutes they stood there calling and trying to impress each other. I got some great shots which you can see in the pictures. What an amazing near contact experience!!! I will never forget it! So Cool!!! This was followed by close meeting of the sealion along the beach and see when the yellow-eyed penguins came in from the sea, rested on the hill side before climbing up the hill to their nests. Finally we went to a hutt with an overview over the beach which also had a camera set up to film two nests. In one of them there was a 3-day old chick and one egg. On the way back to the minibus I got a look at some Blue penguins in their nesting boxes. After 6 hours in the harsh nature weather I felt windswept and cold so I finished the day with a hot jacuzzi bath thinking of the totally wonderful and amazing animal experiences I've seen.

Posted by JMarianneL 02:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Oamaru

Nature, Nature, Nature and some town.

semi-overcast 15 °C

Today's day tour from Dunedin went north to Oamaru. In stead of driving the highway, I took of the road towards the sea to explore the nature along the coast. On my way out I saw all sorts of seabirds and arrived to windswept beaches. Further on I drove over green hills, passed paddocks with cattle and sheep, some sparsely forrests and small villages along the cost which was passed in a blink or two. Half way to may final destination I stopped at the Moeraki Boulders. These are round stones laying on the beach. They come from the hill above the beach, gets exposed and released by erosion. Amazing what nature can achieve. Continued my trip north to Oamaru where I had planned to get my big animal experience of the day, or actually more later in the evening. But now in the afternoon, I got a guided round tour of the Little Blue Penguin colony. Actually I got a private one, since no one else was there. Pretty cool!!! Unfortunately there wasn't much activities in the area since most adults were out fishing and there only were chicks and some adults in the nesting boxes. I could peek into some of them in the area and get a glimpse of some, but the best look was in the "open" peeking nesting boxes they had put up where you could look at a nest from above. So cool and soooo cute!!! After this almost near experience of Blue penguins I went into town and strolled along the old historic streets, looked at art and handcraft and walked along the main street with all the shops. To fill my penguin desire even more I went to a lookout to see when the yellow-eyed penguins arrived to the beach for the night. To finalise my big Blue Penguin near contact experience I had book a evening viewing. I had a premium view where I sat 2-3 m from the penguins when they arrived from the sea at dusk. Unfortunately it wasn't allowed to take any pictures, so can't show you how cute they were. But I can definitely assure you, they are supercute!!! You could follow them from when they came close to the shore in groups, up the beach, see them rest for a while and then carefully come up in groups in front of me. During 1,5 hours it came around 120 penguins. So amazing and cool!!! The drive back to Dunedin was full of thoughts of what I've experienced and seen during the day. Exhilarating!

Posted by JMarianneL 23:24 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Palmerston North - Dunedin

Flight and town sightseeing.

semi-overcast 15 °C

My long travel started an early morning the 14 nov at 6 am leaving my home in Palmerston North aiming for the airport and the plane taking me to Dunedin. Smooth flight with a short stop in Christchurch where I didn't even have to leave the plane. Arrived in Dunedin at 10am and picked up my rental car. I'm a bit surprised that it doesn't feel more strange to drive on the wrong side, sit on the wrong side of the car and have the direction stick on the wrong side of the steering wheel. It's just my third time driving a car in this country. Lucky I've been biking all year in the traffic to at least get used to the left side traffic. Some unwanted starts with the windscreen wiper happened by pure reflex when quick decisions were made, but it just concludes that my driving still sits in the back of my spine.
Arrived to my hotel after a short drive, left my car there, since it was too early for checkin, grabbed my camera och headed for town center with the map in my hand. First destination was the railway station, both to look at the historic building and book my train ticket for the trip two days later. An amazingly beautiful building with such details, both inside and outside. The floor in the hall and stair case were both covered in mosaic tiles and there were two colourful glas windows above. After a short strol I arrived to the Octagone square. And yes, it's actually is eight sided. A green sloping oasis right in town. Surpricingly relaxing even if the traffic passes through. Along side the square were historical buildings with the cathedral and Municipal Chambers and a long row of caf├ęs and restaurants. Grabbed lunch at one of them and enjoyed the view over the sunny square. Continued my walk to look at the First church and totally got blown away by the amazing arched wooden ceiling inside. First church I've been in that the floor and benches sloped slightly towards the front. And I've been into lots and lots of churches in my life, I can asure you. Next aim was the Botanic garden on the outskirts of town were I looked at amazingly colourful Rhododendrons in all sizes, from small bushes to huge trees. They also had a nice rose garden, which wasn't in full bloom right now, and a great looking conservatory. On my way back to the square I passed the University and some nice old wood buildings with details. Back to the hotel after a 5 hour sightseeing walk, I rested my legs, feet and back and planned for the next day nature and animal adventure.

Posted by JMarianneL 19:44 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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