Saturday, 11 August 2012

Reaching the most Southern Point

The weekend of Friday July 27th my flatmates and I took a trip to the Southern point of NZ's South island through the Catlins. This amazing trip started off a little late with us not leaving our flat until around 2pm on the Friday afternoon (Thursday night got the best of some of us). But we got KFC, all was well and we were off to the Catlins in Mary (cars name)!

Due to the delayed departure, we only stopped at one spot on the Friday night. It was along the coastline of the Catlins overlooking the Pacific ocean. Over the course of this whole trip you will come to understand that my flatmate (Laura) and I are just goofs that love to climb up and around stuff, and I don't know why we do it, it just always seems to end up happening. And Nugget point was where it all began climbing into a so called "fort in the woods" which wasn't that exciting once we climbed into it and coming out of it I rolled my ankle pretty bad (had to happen first day at the first place eh). Aside from the small mishap Nugget Point was beautiful.

Our Kiwi hosts family actually lived just passed the Catlins and them being the most amazing people seemed more than welcome to have us stay their for the night! It was a great night spent with them watching friday night rugby (Just switch out the rugby for hockey and your back in Canada) and it was an early night because we had a big schedule for the weekend.

Unfortunatley I don't think any of us set alarms to wake up early on Saturday morning so we all slept in but it  was not too late to leave without having my first home cooked NZ breakfast. It might have been the best part of the trip smelling the cooked bacon and eggs being (It is just so expensive I thought I would have to kill a pig myself to ever eat it here). It was definitely a great idea to stay there, I never really wanted to leave after eating the bacon!

The first stop on our Saturday adventure was Stirling point which is the lowest road point in NZ. There is a sign that shows how far other major cities are around the world from that specific spot. And I don't know by but I decided that swinging from the sign was a good decision (came out to be a great pic). This was also the first spot I used my recently purchased tripod! (We named her Tina).

Not too far from Stirling point was the Bluff lookout, which was an unreal place and fortunately for us it was a clear day so we could see for miles. A really cool thing that you usually cannot see is Stuart Island which is just off the coast and being the beautiful day that it was we saw the whole side of the island! Then it was back to Mary to the next destination.

This next unplanned stop was probably one of the best and most random spots we could have stopped. My American flatmate and I being complete tourists were definitely not used to seeing the huge groups of sheep in the fields along the road. So we convinced our Kiwi host to pull over to the side of the road in the middle of nowhere beside a field that had just a ton of sheep. Sure enough we B-lined out of Mary hopped the fence and chased after those sheep. I was really surprised that they were so quick in avoiding us two crazy tourists chasing after them but then again I'm sure we are not the first tourists to attempt to try and catch a sheep. This was actually the birth of Jordan's "JamWich Shop" that is actually run out of the trunk of Mary (huge menu - loaf of bread and jar of strawberry jam, you can be as creative as you want).

 Our following stop was at the Petrified forest and we all thought we were lost becasue it was on a coastline with no trees anywhere.? Turned out to be the right place and due to some sort of volcanic mud flow all the trees were fossilized into the ground and you can still see them today. You can also see a very rare species of penguins here, but I guess that they are so rare we didn't get to see any (we were really hoping to get a pet for our flat).
A tree in the Petrified Forest
10 meter distance from the so called

Lake Wilkie walk was after the Petrified forest and it literally took us 20 minutes to do the entire trail. The highlight of this adventure was that there was a fallen tree in the path and of course we had to climb it! Being the most unintelligent one of the group I went up first, and with them all yelling at me to keep going because they wanted to get higher on the tree I got stuck... I ended up having to jump off because I couldn't just slide back down the tree. Ill never do that again; well never be the first to do it!

Just 5 minutes down the road from Lake Wilkie was the Mclean falls and they were definitely  a site to see! Walking into them we passed a whole bunch of different rivers and waterfalls so we expected something big at the end. And we were not disappointed! They were amazing BUT of course we couldn't just stand there, we had to climb! So we converted to Kiwi (took our shoes off and walked barefoot) (Our Kiwi hosts boyfriend who came with us on the trip did all the trails barefoot!) and climbed beside the waterfall. I ended up taking a little spill at the top that was recorded, I'm considering sending it to Americas Funniest Home Videos. At this point it seemed the sun was setting so we decided to head out.

Heading into town to look for a hostel to stay the night, we came across the Florence Hill Lookout which had the fastest cow that Laura and I had ever seen! Aside from the cow that was equally wide as it was long, the view was spectacular! It overlooked the beach where we watched this poor guy getting eaten up by waves trying to surf.

At this point I think everyone was starving! (well I know I was starving) so we head towards a small town and stopped a small gas station/market/restaurant where we bought a hot dog (it was actually a Pogo but Kiwis call it a hot dog) and chips. It was the saltiest and greatest fast food I had ever tasted. There was nowhere to stay within that town so we had to drive to the next town (Owaka) and we finally found a hostel (after stopping at the grocery store to pick up peanut butter and chocolate of course).   We spent the whole night watching the Olympics.

I actually woke up Sunday morning around 7:30 to catch the sunrise in Owaka. I went for a run around the town, tried to find a good spot to watch it and I ended up hopping a fence and ran up a hill to watch the sunrise. It was just an amazing site to see coming over the mountains. I only wish my $100 Fuji Film camera took better shots.

Getting back to the hostel we cooked breakfast, watched some Olympics and then we were off again! Our first stop was at the Purakaunui Falls. At this point I think we had seen enough waterfalls for one weekend but we still had to walk around it! And walking back from the falls Laura did find a tree she could fit in, that was impressive.
Chilling in the tree

The second stop was Cannibal Bay (I don't know why its called that I only know that we could possibly see sea lions there) and we walked long and far on a mission to see any wildlife and the only thing we saw was a mutilated seal. And of course we still ended up climbing the sides of some awesome rock faces!

Our next stop was a life-changing experience for me! At the Tunnel Hill Historic Reserve (its really just a tunnel built for a railroad track) is where I had my FIRST EVER PB&J sandwich! For anyone who knows me back home, this is a big deal! I really just needed a change up, so Jordans "JamWich Shop" expanded their menus to include PB&Js. After one I was instantly hooked and have been eating them ever since. After the sandwich we walked through the tunnel and it was a little anti-climatic so Laura and I decided to climb over the tunnel (it was safe dont worry mom) and we thought that over the hill would be where the entrance was. We were wrong and got lost in a bunch of hills, had to dodge some electric fences and jump some swampy rivers, but we did finally make it back! (I blame the PB&J for getting us lost). After that scare we decided it would be a good idea to start heading back home!

Overall this was an amazing first weekend of actually travelling around New Zealand, climbing stuff and seeing what the country side looked like. Cant wait to see the rest of NZ

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