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."
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