We are loving everything about the South Island and we are definitely being good little tourists and supporting the Nz economy as often as we possibly can. Every track or tourist attraction has donation boxes set up to support the upkeep of the trails and the millions of swing bridges over all the rivers and streams. Where there is not a swing bridge (on the roads), the Kiwis prefer the use of the one lane bridge for vehicle traffic. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, there are signs like this usually it says ONE LANE BRIDGE on the road as you drive along. These bridges along with driving in general, are very confusing to campervans and motorhomes so don’t wait for these types of vehicles to figure out the sign, just drive ahead with confidence and leave them in your wake, especially if you have the tiniest car that can barely make it up hills. Also, when walking across swing bridges make sure to jump up and down and make the bridge swing/bounce more to discourage all the people that want to stop in the middle of these narrow bridges and take photos.
Obviously there is a prevalence of tourists arriving by the bus load that love to stop on the swing bridges even though the photo opportunities are usually much better on either side of the actual bridge so ya know, you can get more of the river in your photo off the bridge. Just a couple essential (and free) tips for your next or first visit to Kiwi land.
Anyway, after leaving the beautiful Catlins coast, we continued through the SE corner of the S. Island to arrive in architecturally-amazing Dunedin. Personally, we weren’t massively interested in the buildings in Dunedin during our short visit. We were, however excited about the Cadbury chocolate factory and the Speight’s brewery. It was pouring rain while we were visiting and we can recommend both of these tours to any visitors as these two places provide two essential food groups: chocolate & beer! Around every corner they gave us more chocolates at Cadbury and at the end of the Speight’s tour rhe tour guide was too happy to keep our tasting glasses full. We then had the most amazing dinner at the brewery restaurant next door.
After being absolutely stuffed full of lamb shanks and venison, we walked back to Hulmes Court B& B and slept great! They provided a great breakfast spread the next day and the resident ginger cat kept us company at breakfast. B& B ducks vs. free range ducks:
From Dunedin, we went up the highway a bit to Oamaru and visited the steampunk Hq. After our interactive experience at the curios shop on the Catlins coast, we were a little underwhelmed as it was more an art exhibit than an interactive mechanized experience. The best part was a giant train outside that blew steam and fire and sound effects when you paid the train’s donation box $2.
I went a bit overboard buying handmade printed clothing from a local Oamaru designer (Dyan Prujean) and loved all the random collections of steampunk themed things in the grainstore gallery made by proprietor, Donna Demente.
Oamaru was my favorite city so far, but we only spent a few hours there and then it was on to Maori rock paintings and the Omarama clay cliffs. At this stage we were pretty scenerey’d out, but the clay cliffs were definitely worth a look. The Maori paintings were mostly removed from the site and put in various museums…the dotted lined section is what’s been removed.
Clay cliffs! We couldn’t climb enough!
After leaving the clay cliffs we continued on to our next stop, to explore the Mt. Cook area, an airbnb in Twizel. Good thing Andy is resourceful and found the stove’s user manual online, because cooking for the night was a bit of a challenge. Fancy induction stove+ cheap aluminum skillets that induction stove can’t recognize=cooking our fresh salmon filets, that we picked up from a salmon farm down the street, in a medium sized pot. Otherwise, the airbnb house is great and even has a trampoline out the back, which I got some good use out of. This morning we set off for a hike around Mt. Cook. If you book earlier you could probably stay in the beautiful Mt. Cook valley, but we didn’t so we drove 45 minutes into the mountains. We were rewarded on our drive with beautiful views. Most importantly, the weather cooperated!
When we reached the valley, we walked the 13km hooker valley track which I found out about because it’s super popular and an easy walk.
A lot of people we passed looked like it was not easy for them, but they had hiking poles and zip off pants, so at least they looked the part. Anyway, it was well worth it to reach a glacial lake with dirt covered icebergs floating in a sediment-grey lake.
I try not to compare, but the Mt. Cook area was significantly better than any of the other glaciers we’ve seen in NZ. It’s so evident to see the glaciers melting away right in front of your eyes and who knows how much longer we’ll have them? In other news, Andy really likes it when I hum, whistle or sing to myself and I plan to do that on all of our future hikes…hopefully, I don’t get tossed off a mountain in the process. Please take a moment to think about the blank in the title and comment below.
Thanks for reading!
Bre & Andy