The Southern Scenic Route – Friday 24th February 2012


The Southern Scenic Route from Invercargill to Dunedin has a coastal option, featuring a dozen or so stop offs, including the ‘concrete horse trough’, which we gave a miss!

It would seem that New Zealand is practising the “4 seasons in one day” scenario but the trump card today is definitely wind.

The Caitlins has a dangerous coast line. At Waipapa Point in 1881, the SS Tararua ran aground: 131 out of 151 passengers and crew died. The lighthouse is stout and built after this disaster.

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The rocky coast also has patches of golden sand and large swathes of ribbon seaweed. To my great joy, I notice a lone, lumbering seal, heaving itself onto the beach to rest its head on a rock and have a good scratch.

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Next stop: a short walk over farm land to Slope Point, the most southerly point in New Zealand.
No! That was the most Southerly road in Bluff, which we saw yesterday!
True South is a bleak place (yes, bleaker than Bluff!) Even the grass was having a hard time growing there and in places had given up, in favour of the smallest succulent I have ever seen. Tiny spores, like duck week spread out, clutching at thin soil.

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At the cliff edge, by the official sign post to both the equator and the South Pole, the winds buffeted us ferociously. For an instant, it grabs your whole body, but mostly it wraps my hair around my face so I cannot see anything at all. Not safe on top of a cliff!

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Next stop: Curio Bay is fascinating because an ancient fossil forest litters the beach. Rounded tree stumps and large fallen logs, certainly not coal, but hard as rock with a wood texture.

Here we also see a yellow eyed penguin, some 60cm tall, lying rotund as a submarine, just under a bush. They are an endangered species who are very wary of humans and it is difficult to get close. I think we were lucky this one was asleep with his head under the bush. He stretched occasionally and wriggled his toes but never suspected he was posing.
We find two more of these lovely creatures at Roaring Bay, standing on the beach waiting for parents to return home with supper. .Two more seals laze at the far end of the bay. I hope they are not contemplating their own supper of penguin! I’ve seen those David Attenborough programmes!

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Next stop: Nugget Point/Takata lighthouse.
Up this hill we see hundreds of fur seals in their colony. And again am amazed how agile they are. They climb really high up on islands out at sea, over incredibly steep inclines. We certainly need binoculars to see them but they are a wonderful sight.

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The Southern Scenic Route, Ocean option road is metaled, but not sealed, for much of its distance. It’s the first time we have traveled on this kind of road for so many kilometers. It took us ages to cross is as the road was bumpy and we stopped so often for sights. By the time we finished I felt quite jarred!

It’s good to have reached Dunedin. It’s a university town of some size. I look forward to learning more about it.

Well…
The Bella Vista motel is average and, for a two bedroomed place, is honestly cramped. There are student lodgings next door and they are on Orientation week, meaning alcohol and shouting from 10pm to 2 am.
Reminds me of Kingston!

Oh and Dunedin has a long one way system.

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