Part 5

The Catlins and Gold country

Driving south we picked up some German hitchhikers.Beautiful scenery.

At the motorcamp in Invercargill. It was right next to an equestrian showground.

The museum in Invercargillhad this really old wheelchair for use. It wasn't a museum piece, either.They have a tuatara lizard there, which is apparently 120 years old. It could almost have been stuffed - it didn't move, but you could see it breath every 10 seconds or so.

Lots of cool old things in the museum - in some ways it was better than the national museum, Te Papa, in Wellington, in that it didn't try to be hip and politically correct. Back in the olden days, they made their own pillsA manual vacuum cleaner.

We went to a farm supply store just out of curiosity. Lots of things that I never knew existed.Grocery stores in New Zealand sell huge tubes of refrigerated dog and cat food!

Invercargill was kind of a flat gray town. Of course, the weather probably had something to do with that.We drove along the Catlin Scenic Route out of Invercargill. At Waipapa Point there was a shipwreck in the late 1800's that killed about 130 people. Getting friendly with some sea lions here.

The victims of the shipwreck are buried in a lonely cemetary nearby.The Curio Bay fossilized forest. It was preserved by volcanic activy and mudflows, and is now being exposed by the pounding of the ocean. The short lumps are what remains of tree stumps.

This was cool - it's the mold of a large old tree. It was like an inverse canoe, filled with water.

On the other side of the bay, people were doing some fishing.Some snorkelers had found some paua, like abalone. They're edible, plus the inside of the shells are beautifully iridescent.

The owner of this van wrote some of his social commentary on it. Kind of like a do-it-yourself bumper sticker.Cathedral Caves. These were a set of about 6 or 7 awesome massive caves, carved out by the ocean. We weren't able to explore as long as we would have liked, because the tide was coming in. A few days after we were here, 4 people drowned in New Zealand because they stayed out on a reef, collecting seashells, while the tide came in.

The tide is starting to come in...

A little pool, made from a drip in the ceiling, where krill get trapped.There were yellow-eyed penguin nesting in the back of the cave! I guess that means that the tide doesn't come all he way in.

We stopped at the Catlins River branch railway line, dug by hand. It's no longer used.Nugget Point is an isolated spot off a bad road. It's a wild and windy peninsula, with a lighthouse and lots of resident wildlife. We spent some time here watching seabirds trying to take off. A lot of them were thrown back into the sea by the wind.

It was incredibly windy here. I had to have Eric provide a windbreak for picture-taking so that the camera would stay steady.We saw more yellow-eyed penguin here on this beach, from a little blind.

This picture was taken through the binocular lens.Lunch at a beach again!

Eric got a childish kick out of Kaka Point.A panelbeating shop is what they call a body shop in New Zealand.

This is about as much as we saw of Dunedin. It was raining very hard, and was also very windy, so we left after confirming that the weather would stay bad. The road from Dunedin to Christchurch was closed later because of flooding.The Moeraki Boulders, north of Dunedin, were well worth a detour. They're formed by calcite crystalizing around organic nuclei. It's amazing to see almost perfectly round boulders laying in the sand.

This one is still emerging from the mud cliff.

These poor cows are huddled in the far corner of the field, heads away from the wind.Yipee! It started clearing up as we headed inland again.

The ocean is so cold in the South Island that instead of selling swimsuits, they sell little kiddie wetsuits.The old Alexandra bridge.

The town of Clyde, not too far from Alexandra, has lots of neat old stone buildings.This old Art Deco bank building is now a cafe.

Four Square is a big mini-supermarket chain in New Zealand.Almost all the electricity on the South Island comes from hydroelectric. This is the Clyde damn.

The old gold mining town of Bendigo/Welshtown has very deep mining shafts. It's not an area that you'd want to let your kids wander around unsupervised - lots of them are uncovered, unlike this one.Some of the former occupants must have enjoyed some really nice views.

Later on, as we drove over Lindis Pass, we saw this biker. It would have been great to have bikes with us, to take little tours. But as a means of transport, it seems like a very hard way to travel.The motorcamp in Twizel had lots of wide-open spaces.

Seems like all the motorcamps rent out little cabins as well.