Tuesday 17 December 2013

Invercargill Here We Come

We left Newhaven Holiday Park in the Catlins on Friday morning. Originally we were going to take the inland route via Gore to Invercargill as we didn't want to pre-empt a longer visit to the Catlins later in our travels. But we decided that as we weren't going to take the many side roads to the beaches and bays we might as well travel through the Catlins and it was about 30kms shorter too.

It was great to see that way out in the wops someone has a sense of  humour and I'm sure has brought many a smile to travellers faces. A fishing Santa sat on the bank of a stream running through some farmland. It didn't matter that up close Santa looked more like a stuffed sack wearing a Santa suit, without a face & holding an old stick!

Further on there were a couple of high points where we did stop and take in the views along the coast which were amazing. The roads were very quiet with just a few motorhomes & campervans passing by.

The Spouting Cave at Florence Hill Lookout-

You can see the blow hole to the left of the island

And the beautiful, isolated & totally unspoilt Tautuku Bay & Beach-

I love the way the bush sweeps back off the beach in  stunted growth & gradually rises as the trees come under more protection. The wind here must be ferocious.

The drive took us through the Catlins Coastal Rainforest Park where the Kamahi (one of the most widespread native trees in NZ) was in flower, casting a soft pink hue over most of the lower canopy. We also spotted what we are sure was a NZ falcon sitting atop a very tall dead tree trunk, an ideal spot to launch itself on it's hunting forays. NZ falcons are extremely rare, they are much smaller than the harrier hawk and are one of the fastest flying birds in the world. Unfortunately we couldn't stop for a few hundred metres & by the time I walked back up the road it was gone. Another day...

Once out of the forest park we gradually descended back to sealevel with first the sheep farms making an appearance followed quickly by the ever increasing dairy farms and supporting haymaking paddocks .

I love the huge flax bushes that are line most of the roads and fence lines. Ideal shelterbelts for stock and great food for the birds from the flowering spikes at this time of the year. Of course Southland was one of the main flax growing & milling areas of NZ in the early 1900s so the climate must be just perfect.

Finally after seeing the last of the ocean at Florence Hill Lookout, it came back into view in the form of the large Fortrose Estuary & lower Mataura River which empties into Toetoe Bay.

We pulled in for lunch beside the estuary on what had turned into a gorgeous sunny day. David did a bit of bird spotting & catching up on the web (we'd been out of internet contact for a few days) while I prepared lunch. I am loving having the "house" on the back with all the facilities ready & waiting. No picnic bag & thermos needed!

And after lunch I had time for a bit of photography before we hit the road again, Invercargill not too far away now.

The road followed along the banks of the Matarua River for quite a distance and while I know that the Matarua River is known as the world's best river for dry fly wild brown trout fishing I had forgotten it's also famous for it's whitebait huts. At first I thought maimais and then it dawned on me, whitebait huts (and stands), by the dozens. Of every ramshackled shape & construction they lined the lower river on both sides for quite a distance even on the other side of the road where the river had cut in close to the road edge. The competition during the season for this little sliver of delicacy must be fierce here, it's a wonder any whitebait survive.

By now David was keen to keep moving so I couldn't persuade him to stop & let me take some photos. I managed to grab this one (especially for my aunty who spends many days whitebaiting back in Hawkes Bay) as we neared a bridge over the river. But I will be back, you can be sure of that!
And finally after leaving Tauranga & our old life on October 23rd (just over 7 weeks ago) and travelling 2900kms we arrived in Invercargill, the southern most city in New Zealand & where family were eagerly waiting to see us.
We've loved every moment so far & can't wait to get back "Out There" Roll on the New Year.

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