Our rental car was now left behind for a better model - a campervan! We will have this beauty for 25 days come rain or shine - it will be very cold and the heating only works when connected up to external power! It (he - Nic has named him Dick after his number plate) has a gas cooker, sink, fridge, toaster and heater, our bed is the table/bench and the CD player keeps on jumping at very amusing places - Nina Simone can't half rap good!
Bangers and mash - our first meal in Dick
We headed straight down to the south coast towards to the Catlins, via Clifden for some unguided cave exploring! We ended up staying at a view point with the ocean pounding the cliffs beneath us - nobody decided to join us that night, we fell asleep to wind and the waves!
Just off the windswept cliffs...
After quickly stopping off at Invercargill for breakfast, we headed through the Catlins national park and found ourselves at the most southerly point of the South Island, Slope Point. We stopped off at a few bays along the coast and were confronted with a family of sea lions, a few penguins, fossilied trees from the Jurassic period and I guess NZ's equivalent of the 12 apostles, (no way near as commercialised!) after beating the campervan up going down all the dirt tracks they call roads! We spend a night amongst the swampy wetlands.
A quick growl! Maybe we got too close....
Dunedin was the next bit civilisation we would stay at, we were due a shower and a warm nights sleep. This place is abundant in its Scottish roots and has brilliant architecture. We braved the steepest street in the world and treated ourselves to a rented TV for the night (only two quid!)
Our next stop was just magical! We drove out to the Otago Peninsula to the only natural mainland breeding colony of the Royal Albatross. The season wasn't perfect for a viewing but boy did we get a good look! These birds are huge and have a prehistoric air about them. One pair were flying around, probably only 10 metres above our heads - considering their wingspan is on average 3 metres they seemed pretty close. . it was an experience we'll never forget! They were checking their babies were all good, which weigh in at a whopping 8kgs (fat little birdies!). We left this area not before stopping at NZ's only castle and headed inland for another random stop over. We then drove over Haast pass (one of only three passes throughout the whole Southern Alps!) which was awe-inspiring! We stopped over at another lake, which is pretty close to the fault line running down the dividing range before Glacier country time...
On the way up the world's steepest street!
A well earned rest