Saturday, 16 January 2010

The Otago Peninsula and Catlins Coast

The wildlife of the Otago Peninsula was remarkable but required in the case of the penguins a decent telephoto lens and the sea lions a respectable distance - the giant albatross were easily seen but again a photographic challenge as in this case the gale force winds at Taiaroa head made standing hard enough. Back in Dunedin the Taieiri Gorge Railway was a worthwhile trip back in to Central Otago whilst the rough camping on the domain at Brighton was compensated for with a superb beach and sunset.
The Catlins were a quiet backwater with stunning deserted coast, sweeping beaches and wooded inland upland areas that provided good walks and an empty DOC site. The opportunity to walk on empty golden sands with sea lions basking occasionally was remarkable and despite strong cold winds the sun shone most of the time.
Curio Bay was a quirky but memorable site to stay on with the nearby petrified forest an interesting diversion - the trees were almost as old as the site facilities.
Finally today we have arrived in Invercargill after the obligatory diversion to Slope Point the most southerly point in mainland New Zealand and an afternoon spent on the nicest beach yet - name and location to remain a secret.
So far everything is holding together after 3 full months on the road - we eat well, sleep well and have had mostly excellent weather - even the notorious sand flies have yet to appear in any numbers. The van is due a service in the next week or two but the necessary is stowed away somewhere so a quiet corner one afternoon will do - despite miles of rough tracks and a full load the old bus is doing very well and provides a comfortable retreat at the end of a busy day. Some of the kiwi DIY conversions are amazing but being usually based on old Japanese coaches they lack the flexibility we enjoy.

The link to pics is below - any pics of home in the snow are welcome by email













































Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Central Otago - Wild and Wonderful

We were lucky to spend New Year in splendid isolation in the Oteake Conservation area walking the Hawkdun Ranges and enjoying excellent weather with occasional interesting companions - a Swiss girl cycling round the remoter corners of South Island, a Chinese lad on a five year round the world epic and some very friendly and interesting Kiwis - locals and visitors.

Dusty dirt tracks took us high in to the McKenzie country, the Danesby Pass, Hakataramea and to reach old goldfields the Thomson Gorge Pass which the van managed remarkably well.

Last night we stayed by Lake Onslow half way along a long and remote track where we experienced memorable skies and solitude.

We are now in Dunedin prior to heading for the Catlins and then Invercargill where we hope to see marine wildlife before turning north.

All is well - and the usual extra pics are at

http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/sjarratt5/OtagoHikingAndBiking?authkey=Gv1sRgCLfz8PyP9aWXJQ&feat=directlink