Finally, and with much anticipation from my wife, I’m very pleased to post the first photographs of our travels here in New Zealand!
We had been in Invercargill all of 36 hours and Asta had us on the road and exploring. Since we’re in winter weather here, the mountains can be a little iffy, so we’ve spent most of our traveling time on the southeast coast of the South Island of New Zealand.
To the east of Invercargill is an area called “The Catlins.” This region reminds me some of the Baraboo Hills, as well as the Appalachian Mountains – hilly, rugged, green, pleasant. The area is covered with either sheep farms or impenetrable temperate rainforest rather than farms and mixed hardwood forests we’d see in the States. The roads are narrower and slower driving than similar roads in the States, particularly if you’re jet-lagged. And, another major difference is that to the south there’s the Pacific Ocean.
On our first trip outside of Invercargill, we drove east and visited three main areas. The first place that we stopped was Waipapa Point, which is the location of a nice lighthouse and maybe some seals/sea lions, if it’s the right time of year (which it wasn’t). Yes, leaving the heat of Madison and a few days later being in the windy bluster off the sea at Waipapa Point was a bit of change of scenery. I think that the wind quickly blew off our summer tans.
A few kilometers east of Waipapa Point we stopped at Curio Bay. Rather than use my words, I’ll rely on someone else’s words via Wikipedia:
“Curio Bay features the petrified remains of a forest 160 million years old. This represents a remnant of the subtropical woodland that once covered the region, only to become submerged by the sea. The fossilised remnants of trees closely related to modern kauri and Norfolk pine can be seen here.”
Fortunately, we were at Curio Bay at low tide and were able to see the fossilized trees. Around the corner from the fossilized trees, we found a narrow, tantalizing cove where the waves would rush in and spread over the rocks. I enjoyed that more, just watching the waves wash over everything.
Finally, as our jet-lagged bodies were screaming to stop driving and go back to bed in the middle of the afternoon, we made our longest hike, all of 20 minutes, to McLean Falls. The hike was pleasant and easy, if a bit damp and wet in the misty rain. And, it was our first foray into the rainforest! It was such a contrast from being in a typical North American forest – ferns are growing everywhere, everything is damp and green, thick, lush – and, I really didn’t have the desire to try to walk off the “track” (trail) since it looked like it would involve too much work bushwhacking. We first spotted a waterfall and thought that it was nice. We then found that the trail continued, so we followed it upward and found the very impressive McLean Falls!
And, just to whet your Kiwi weather appetite, we’re now into spring weather. This seems to mean that you have one day of nice weather, intermingled with a couple three days of cool, rainy weather. The rainy days are very different from a Midwestern rainy day. The weather can literally change almost 180 degrees within an hour. There have been many times the past week when the wind will be howling like a banshee, the skies dark and grey, and then the clouds break and the sun comes out. I’ve never been in such fierce winds as here for such an extended period of time. We’re also having several minutes of blustery rain, sleet and pebble hail, followed by a period of broken clouds and sun.
You have to be prepared for most any type of weather or, as we see many folks here do, just say “what weather?” I’m amazed at how people here dress. Yes, you’ll see quite a few people in their warmest winter coats, hats, gloves and scarves. And, right behind them, you’ll see someone in shorts, a warm shirt and hat. It seems to me that these southern Kiwis are much tougher than me when it comes to the weather – but I’m adjusting.
We hope that you’re enjoying these tidbits as much as we’re enjoying sharing them with you. And, we certainly appreciate having the opportunities that we have to explore New Zealand!