Our adventure on the New Zealand West coast ended with our kayak trip in Doubtful Sound. For a lover of mountains and dramatic landscapes as me, it was sad to leave all of that behind. The high mountains that have been surrounding us on the roads ever since we arrived at Franz Joseph’s glacier is now just memories.
It’s hard to reset for a new adventure, but every end is the beginning of something new. Now the south coast is waiting, also with a dramatic landscape – in its own way.
We made a quick stop in Bluff and snapped some touristy pictures at the famous sign. This is the very end of the ”Te Araroa” hiking trail. The trail that start at the northernmost point on the north island and leads all the way down to Bluff. 3,000 kilometers.
We also tried a ”Fish’n’Chips” in Bluff which was highly recommended online, but it wasn’t anything special really. Bluff feels like a small town that you can skip.
Waipapa point – a beautiful lighthouse
The south coast east of Bluff and up towards Dunedin is called ”The Catlins”. Waipapa point is really where this coast begins.
We walked out to the lighthouse and looked for sea lions, unfortunately we didn’t see any.
Slope point – southernmost point of main land
The rolling hills lays green all around with rugged trees and cows grazing in pastures with incredible views. We drive through this beautiful landscape at a pleasant pace with our campervan Ralph on the winding roads through The Catlins. It’s not mountains – but it is beautiful anyway.
After rolling up and down the hills we reached New Zealand’s southernmost point on the mainland. Slope point is ”only” 4800 kilometers from the south pole. We’ve never been further south, quite cool experience. The waves roll in all the way from the cold water of Antarctica. The wind is nipping at our faces. Autumn is slowly arriving in New Zealand, especially all the way down here in the south.
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Curio Bay – Dolphins and petrified wood
In cozy and beautiful Curio Bay we spend a whole day. I borrow and wetsuit from a nice guy in the beach café. Out in the half moon-shaped bay, I spot a whole bunch of fins. These fins belongs to a pod of ”Hectors dolphin”.
I swim out past the surf break towards the pod. Now I can’t see them at all. But then, all of a sudden, they show up. Only 10-15 meters away from me, unfortunately the water is so murky that I can’t see them under the surface with my mask.
But what an amazing feeling. This experience is as far you can get from shows in aquariums. This is real. My body is shaking of nervousness, joy, euphoria and I all I want to do is to scream out loud. But I’m almost paralyzed. It’s like the whole world stops for a second. I probably look ridiculously silly with the biggest smile between my ears. No scream. I swim around in silence and fully take in the moment. The fact that the water is making my legs feel like ice, doesn’t bother me what so ever. This. Is. Life.
In the next bay along, just a short walk from where the dolphins hang out there is moore exciting things to see. When the tide is out you can walk around on the sea floor to watch petrified wood. This is the first time I have experienced this. The trees and stumps that once stood here have been transformed into fossils during millions of years. I have to feel it with my fingers. It looks just like wood but feels like rock. My brain have problems to comprehend. It is impressive. Mother nature has created this on her own. It almost feels too advanced. Like magic. How is it possible? But this is exactly what is fascinating about traveling. We get to learn so much and never stop being impressed by how amazing this planet really is.
At dusk, there are good chances to see ”yellow-eyed penguins” right here where the petrified trees are located. We were here that time of year when the penguins start to mold. Then they stay in their nests for several weeks to replace their feathers with new ones. Someone had seen a penguin the night before – but we had no luck on our side. A few weeks earlier, we would have had a better chance.
This post is the first part from our road trip in ”The Catlins”. In the next post I write about beautiful waterfalls, amazing bays and a mirror blank lake.