Friday, 11 March 2016

NZ: The Catlins and Dunedin

We left the rain behind and drove onwards to the Catlins, where we camped at a beautiful farm in the middle of nowhere. The road was a pot holey mess and my car suffered but the place was worth it, if only for the fact I could feed the sheep and goats!! Here I met an older UK couple who were having a really late gap year, they’d both had a career change at 40, were now 60 and considering another one.  There’s always hope for me!!

In the morning we had an early start as we wanted to explore all of the Catlins in one day.  Our first stop was Curio Bay, where we’d heard tales of dolphins swimming in the bay.  We arrived at 8am and low and behold, the bay had 5 dolphins swimming up and down!!!  We changed into our swimwear and raced off down the beach and jumped into the chilly sea.  They swam really close to us and one of them put on a bit of a show, racing up and down the bay and jumping high in the water.  It was so exhilarating, you were never quite sure where they’d pop up next!!   The bay itself was beautiful too if a little windy – I went for a pee behind a bush and the wind made me pee on my leg and into my shoe.  Nice.

Dolphins in the surf

Next to Curio Bay was a 'petrified forest' which unfortunately for me, didn't mean that the trees were really scared. It meant it was the remains of a jurassic forest and the wood had all been preserved by the sea, so we checked that out also.  In the evening it's home to the ever elusive we didn't see any....sigh....

Petrified tree stump

After the excitement of the dolphins we headed onwards to Cathedral Caves, however they were shut due to high waves, so we continued onward to Purakaunui Falls, which were pretty but nothing spectacular; Tautuku Bay, which was very pretty; and Nugget Point, which has a lighthouse and a seal colony.  The coastline is very rugged and green and The Catlins really reminded me of Cornwall. 

Tautaku Bay

Nugget Point

Our final destination of the day was Dunedin, where we checked into one of the nicest hostels I have stayed in for a while – the guy who ran it was such a dude and let us have free laundry.  The Dutchies joined us here too so we bought beer and had a night out on town, with a few other guys from the hostel joining us.  It was fresher’s week in Dunedin so I think I and Daan were probably the eldest people in the club…but it was fun nonetheless!!! Me and Wouter got in at 330 am, leaving the others stumbling in at 5am….I did not envy them the next day! 

haha we made it onto facebook

slightly over excited and drunk selfie

We got up vaguely early to the annoyance of Rinse, who I found asleep still in his clothes, and drove to Tunnel Beach, an awesome spot just north of Dunedin with a cliff arch sticking out into the sea.  We sat there for about 2 hours just chilling as the weather was beautiful and we were tired!!!

descending into Tunnel Beach

In the afternoon we drove to Baldwin Street which is the steepest street in the whole of New Zealand and therefore a tourist attraction, I mean it was steep but that’s all there was to it really, then headed to the Speights Brewery for a tour.  The boys found it really interesting but I was still a bit tired from the day before and wandered round in a daze, the guide was hilarious though, even if he did keep picking on me as I was the shortest person in the group and travelling with 3 Dutch giants.  The best bit is you get 30 mins worth of free beer tasting at the end so we made full use of it, then went for Mexican food after.

Dunedin street art

Another vaguely early start the next day to go and explore the Otago peninsula, famed for its Albatross, sea lions and penguins – we saw two out of three, the penguins remain elusive!! We met the boys at their campsite and hid in their tent to make them jump, but they took so long having breakfast that we got bored waiting in their tent so gave up and found them in the kitchen. 

The Otago peninsula was really pretty but I think by this point I was a bit coastlined out having already driven through the Catlins.   We did a few walks, including to another ‘Chasm’ where the boys scared me half to death by climbing half way down the cliff face and I had visions of them falling and breaking their necks. 

my car looking sexy in the sun

Daan prancing about

we agreed with the graffiti

album cover

I also nearly ran out of fuel so we headed back into town to replenish gas before heading to a really nice campsite in the Herbert Forest via Moeraki Boulders, a beach where curious large boulders lie. They look a bit like dinosaur eggs and eventually split open due to erosion.

At the campsite I set up my newly acquired tent from Josh – I swapped him a pair of sunglasses I found on the floor for his tent….we had a fun evening playing the Spoons card game but with no spoons, before heading to bed quite late and nearly freezing my nips off even though I was sharing with Wouter and had one sleeping bag and 2 duvets….it was pretty cold!!! 

I think all Dutch men are giants!

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