One cannot deny that NZ’s South Island is truly a pretty stunning place. We covered a lot of territory on our most recent South Island roadtrip (1378 km, in fact) and felt that one more blog post should probably suffice.
There are a few more gems of the South Island that are worth mentioning:
The Moeraki Boulders.
One of Mel’s favourite experiences on the South Island was a visit to the Moeraki Boulders, near the fishing port of Moeraki on the Otago coast. It was a warm and sunny afternoon, and the boulders were looking particularly glorious that day on Koekohe Beach. We marvelled at the oddly spherical shape of the rocks, as well as their fascinating, cracked texture.
As a natural phenomenon, these intriguing boulders have acquired names such as “giant gobstoppers” and “Stonehenge of NZ” by the locals.
After doing some research upon our return home, I found out that these boulders were originally formed in ancient sea floor sediments over 60 million years ago. Rather than falling from cliffs and being smoothed by the ocean waves, the spherical shape of the rocks is attributed to their even growth in all directions over time. Fascinating, I know.
Millions of years later, these sea floor concretions have been exposed through shoreline erosion. Apparently, there used to be more of them too, but people have been taking them off the beach. They are now a protected landmark in NZ.
Should you wish to learn more about the history and significance about the Moeraki Boulders, a short but interesting video clip about the boulders can be viewed here.
On the way from Christchurch to Dunedin, there is a little place called Shag Point, about 50 kilometers North of Dunedin. Signs for seals and yellow-eyed penguins caught our eye, so we decided to see if we could catch a glimpse of any of these coastal creatures. The views at Shag Point were a treat for the eyes; the deep blue color of the sky contrasted with the tourquoise waters and the warm tones of the rocky shoreline made for a stunning sight.
Although the penguins were apparently out for lunch, we were lucky enough to catch a couple of seals sunbathing on rocks.
The East Coast town of Oamaru has old world charm like no one’s business. Though we originally planned to drive with right through, we were lured in by the town’s historic beauty and easily persuaded to stop for a brief exploration. Built in the 1870’s and 1890’s, Oamaru’s Historic Precinct is NZ’s largest Victorian streetscape that still exists today.
We were captivated by this side street in particular, which has been beautifully preserved for over 120 years. While you might think this street to be deserted, several small business, including a bakery, a bookbinder, numerous art galleries and cafes, a brewery, and a wool shop, are alive and fully functioning out of this historic setting. Oamaru is a gorgeous little gem of a town that you should definitely stop in to visit, should you get the chance.
For the first time in over two and a half years, we encountered snow. And you know what? We didn’t really miss it.
But it was strangely familiar, and brought back lots of memories of times in Edmonton of first snowfalls, cars getting stuck in parking lots, and the community/comradery that comes when people realize they need each other to (to help push their car and make it to their next destination). Ah, good times, Edmonton.
The last night of our South Island excursion was spent in the picturesque lakeside village of Wanaka. Due to frigid and moist conditions in Wanaka that day, we probably didn’t get to experience the full greatness of this alpine destination.
I was pretty excited to discover these cool sugar packets in a cafe, though.
With limited options of what to do on a rainy evening in Wanaka, we paid a visit to Paradiso, the quirky local theatre to see a screening of the newly released NZ film, Two Little Boys (featuring Brit MacKenzie from Flight of the Concords.)
It was a bit of a strange movie, but the more redeeming features of the film came through this awesome Maori character named Gav, whom we both loved to bits.
It was fitting that we saw this movie on the South Island, as it highlights the friendship between two young boys who grew up together in the Southern regions of New Zealand. Having just visited some of the places featured on the film, it was even more meaningful in some ways to watch it there.
On our way from Dunedin to Te Anau, our destination within Fiordland, we made the spontaneous decision to head a bit more south than originally planned. Just an hour south of us lay the Southern city of Invercargill, and then twenty minutes below that, the Southernmost point on NZ’s South Island, Bluff. They were just too close to miss.
Within no time, we found ourselves in the colorful and quirky fishing town of Bluff, New Zealand.
After a little bit of searching, we finally found it: The Southernmost signpost. The sun even came out to greet us upon our arrival. It was a glorious moment.
It was a crazy realization to think that we had reached the southernmost point that we will likely ever reach in our lifetime.
We have now touched both the Northern tip and the Southern tip. We are feeling pretty satisfied with what we have been able to do in NZ, and are feeling pretty blessed, and thankful.