The Fastest Indian and rain – Thursday 23rd February 2012


I woke early, hearing heavy rain, and despite turning over, the rain persisted all morning. There is something about being at the bottom of New Zealand. My Melbourne friend is correct. The light isn’t right! There is nothing ‘underneath’ us, except the Antarctic and some penguins!

We are still out of food, but cannot motivate ourselves to buy some. We manage a makeshift lunch: half a muesli bar, an apple, 3 crackers with Vegemite or cream cheese and a cup of coffee each.

Clearly we must get out of here! So we begin our routine of finding a bed for tomorrow night, and when that is completed, and the rain has still not stopped, we play Scrabble on the IPad, and are pleased it is such a high scoring game.

By one o’clock we feel it’s now or never, and leave to visit the Invercargill museum. Here we find the Fastest Indian motorcycle which was made famous by Burt Munro, and Anthony Hopkins, who played Burt in the film of the same name. It was larger than I thought, longer that is.

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I enjoyed the photos of Burt’s life and was impressed by the machines he tweaked and improved with his engineering.
Here is the museum, we also saw a Moa skeleton, some interesting artifacts about the Sub Antarctic islands, many of which I had never heard. I was surprised they included a Marion Island. Why anyone thought these hostile islands should be inhabited remains a mystery to me- but very brave on anyone to try.

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These gorgeous clothes were created recently with materials to match the animals and environment. An albatross dress using real feathers, a gentlemen’s suit with seal fur waistcoat, which the museum curator tried to reassure me was “just lying in the museum for years before the project”.
Most unusual, the museum has an area devoted to tuatara reptiles. They have a breeding program for this prehistoric animal and they are doing really well. We saw at least 4 tiny babies and several other generations, all doing well in their lovely enclosure. They are not lively, their metabolism is incredibly slow, breathing only a few times a minute and with a ridiculously slow heart beat.

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When we got back outside it was still raining! So we drove down to Bluff, which really is the last town of New Zealand. It’s famous for oysters. Now, I have never eaten an oyster. I thought that if I were to try, it would be best to try an Bluff oyster, because I am told they are simple, the best! But it is not the season for oysters yet. I need to come back in May!

However, we have achieved a personal best. Driven from Cape Reigna, at the northern most end of State Highway 1 down to Bluff at the most southerly end, where, by the way, it was raining.

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For once I refused to get out the car. It was grey and damp- no, wet! And cold! It was the first day on this entire trip, since October 2011, that I have actually felt cold. I mean, it has rained before, but not like this!

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“Let’s go somewhere warmer,” I said to John. “What about Australia?” I suggest.

So we will…
Let’s turn back now, because we can’t go further, and slowly, very slowly, make our way home, to London.

I think we’ll get there by mid April!

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