Te Waka a Maui #5 - Turnaround

Curio Bay, in the Catlins, is indeed a curious place. As far south as you can go without getting your feet wet, it has on one side a rocky shore where many of the rocks have petrified trees embedded in them, and the same shore and wooded bank is a yellow-eyed penguin colony. Around the point is the long sandy beach fronting Porpoise Bay, where Hector's Dolphins breed. They are small - one of the smallest - and friendly. They happily swam with a Dutch tourist who braved the rather cold water.

Slope Point is the true southern tip of the South Island, and it must be windy. The few trees are bent and misshapen by wind that was happily absent when we visited on a calm and mild summer's day. I don't fancy visiting there in winter. Further east, the Cathedral Caves are large enough to deserve the name, and the tide was good enough to be out so we could enter.

We rather rushed through Dunedin, but did spend a short while in their magnificent Art Gallery. Then we headed back into the Central Otago hills via the curiously named "Dead Horse Pinch" and somewhat Art Deco'd town of Ranfurly. We did not know it at the time but it seems that nearby was one of the many "Lord of the Rings" film locations and was used as the "Plains of Rohan."

We spent a very wet and chilly night at Naseby - a gold rush town - where the roof of the campground kitchen leaked copiously. New Zealand campgrounds (other than DOC sites) are commercial and have very good facilities, nearly always including a communal kitchen with multiple cook stoves and washing up facilities. Great social gathering spots and very convenient - consequently we often did not use the camper van kitchen.

Next morning the ranges were covered with fresh snow - something of a surprise in mid-Summer. We found an attractive old one-room schoolhouse near Wedderburn - abandoned now with relics of it's last use still pinned to the walls, and stopped for lunch at Saint Bathan's, another old mining town. The Vulcan Pub has its bar so close to the front door you can practically reach your pint from the street - and Sharon the Postmistress was larger than life and full of stories at the Post Office where she keeps a picture of the Queen on the wall - Queen Victoria!

We had to rush to Wanaka to pick up the key for the house we were renting for the week. But we did stop to admire the pink elephant letterbox and the "bike fence."

Click on a photo for a larger image and a slide show.

  • 01 Curio Bay where the tourists swim with the dolphins
    01 Curio Bay where the tourists swim with the dolphins
  • 02 The hunt for dinner near Curio Bay
    02 The hunt for dinner near Curio Bay
  • 03 Tide in knots
    03 Tide in knots
  • 04 Going home in Curio Bay
    04 Going home in Curio Bay
  • 05 It must be windy ... here in Slope Point
    05 It must be windy ... here in Slope Point
  • 06 Slope Point navigation light .. on the most southerly point in the South Island
    06 Slope Point navigation light .. on the most southerly point in the South Island
  • 07 Closer to the ice
    07 Closer to the ice
  • 08 There it is .. go straight south to McMurdo Station in Antarctica, or turn right to Stewart Island
    08 There it is .. go straight south to McMurdo Station in Antarctica, or turn right to Stewart Island
  • 09 Cathedral Cave entrance
    09 Cathedral Cave entrance
  • 10 One way in
    10 One way in
  • 11 And another way out
    11 And another way out
  • 12 Tautuku Beach ... A pretty beach but cold and windy
    12 Tautuku Beach ... A pretty beach but cold and windy
  • 13 Looks like a reference ... to Johny Cash
    13 Looks like a reference ... to Johny Cash
  • 14 An Edwardian Post Office ... was built to last
    14 An Edwardian Post Office ... was built to last
  • 15 A former Ranfurly railway station ... has become the Visitor Information centre, and the rail track a cycle path
    15 A former Ranfurly railway station ... has become the Visitor Information centre, and the rail track a cycle path
  • 16 An Art Deco milk bar in Ranfurly.  Whose centennial was not clear
    16 An Art Deco milk bar in Ranfurly. Whose centennial was not clear
  • 17 Another very solid post office ... this one in Naseby
    17 Another very solid post office ... this one in Naseby
  • 18 Reminder of the hunt for gold
    18 Reminder of the hunt for gold
  • 19 Snow in mid Summer
    19 Snow in mid Summer
  • 20 Abandoned schoolhouse .. complete with relics of the last use
    20 Abandoned schoolhouse .. complete with relics of the last use
  • 21 Sharon the postmistress in the old post office at St. Bathans
    21 Sharon the postmistress in the old post office at St. Bathans
  • 22 A post office ... with an eclectic collection of items for sale
    22 A post office ... with an eclectic collection of items for sale
  • 23 A post office .. with Queen Victoria on the wall, and diatribes against suffrage for sale
    23 A post office .. with Queen Victoria on the wall, and diatribes against suffrage for sale
  • 24 The Vulcan Pub .. where you can reach through to door to pick up your beer from the bar
    24 The Vulcan Pub .. where you can reach through to door to pick up your beer from the bar
  • 25 A swimming hole in St. Bathans ...where the strange colours in the clays remind us of the mining past of the town
    25 A swimming hole in St. Bathans ...where the strange colours in the clays remind us of the mining past of the town
  • 26 The St. Bathans swimming hole.
    26 The St. Bathans swimming hole.
  • 27 Merinos on parade
    27 Merinos on parade