Tuesday 31 December 2013

Bluff on a Brilliant Day

It's another pictorial tour for you, this time of Bluff the oldest European town in New Zealand, having been continuously settled since 1824. Bluff is the southernmost town in the South Island and the gateway to Stewart Island, it's where the ferries leave from to get you there. Bluff town is located on a huge inner deep sea harbour and was once a whaling station. It's also world famous for it's oysters, & believe me Bluff Oysters are the best in the world!

The lookout atop the 264 metre Bluff Hill (Motupohue).

Bluff Town & the 5,500 hectare inner harbour, Bluff Port is located on the 40 hectare island in the foreground which was reclaimed from shallow sandbanks in the 1950s.  

Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, which opened in 1971, dominates the eastern side of the harbour, the wharf  is 1.2 kilometres long & is one of New Zealand's longest. Tiwai produces the world's highest purity primary aluminium in the world & is one of NZ's largest industrial facilities. The smelter opens to the public once every 10 years & Rachel & Cameron went to the last open day tour. Rachel said that the buses drove through the cargo sheds that you can see at the centre & the buses were dwarfed by the enormous size & scale of them, the buses were like Matchbox vehicles. By road the smelter is also closer to Invercargill than Bluff, with no boat service from Bluff Port to Tiwai Wharf.

Looking along the south coast towards Riverton with Oreti Beach just visible at the top right. The 27kms road from Invercargill to Bluff follows the inner harbour passing over the small isthmus just before the town.

Mile wide views; Stewart Island (Rakiura) & Foveaux Strait. Foveaux Strait looking very benign & belying the fact that it's our most notorious & treacherous stretch of water. The strait 26kms wide and it takes about an hour to cross in the ferry.  Bluff Hill is surrounded by beautiful native bush with plenty of walking tracks.

Back down at sea level we visited Stirling Point & the entrance to Bluff Harbour where the historical (& disused) pilot station is located
To the right of the pilot station was a small little bay where we had lunch & let the kids explore the rock pools as the tide went out.

There were lots of pretty little stones & brightly coloured shells. Ruby had the find of the day, a very orange starfish.
I took a walk along the track above the bay......

.....to be surprised to find just over the brow the Stirling Point anchor chain sculpture (Te Puka A Maui) which illustrates the mythological link between the canoe of Maui ( a legendary Polynesian voyager with God like powers) and its anchor stone. The other end of the chain link is on Stewart Island.  Maui pulled up Stewart Island to use as an anchor stone for his canoe (South Island) for when he cast his line out & caught a giant fish, the North Island.

A few steps further on after passing through the chain link was the world famous(again) signpost which attracts many thousands of visitors each year. I did a whistle stop tour of the South Island (3 days to circumnavigate the island) over 30 years ago and this sign pole is the one lasting memory I have of it. Maybe that's because I have an old '70s yellowing Kodak photo of me standing beneath it on a cold blustery grey overcast day, the sign pole looks like it was cemented in a pile of rocks surrounded by gravel & boulders. Obviously the area has been landscaped & beautified since then.

And finally the tallest lighthouse in New Zealand, built in 1864 & located on Dog Island in Foveaux Strait. There used to be 3 keepers located on the island until is was automated in 1989. The tower is painted with black and white bands to make it standout during daylight hours. There are only two other lighthouses in New Zealand with stripes. Cape Campbell Lighthouse (we saw this one when we stayed at Marfells Beach in Seddon) which looks similar to Dog Island and Cape Palliser Lighthouse, which has red and white stripes.

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