Back on the move…
After spending three nights in Queenstown it was time to get going again, and with just five days left before having to return the camper van, we had some serious ground to cover.
Day 154 – Monday 24th October 2016
Here in New Zealand you regularly hear people talking about travelling ‘from Cape Reinga to Bluff’ or vice versa. Having already visited Cape Reinga we decided to visit Bluff too, under the assumption that it was the furthest southern reach in New Zealand. Our one and only intention today was to drive south as far as possible.
We left Queenstown on a high and drove for nearly three hours before we arrived at Stirling Point in Bluff, where we spotted a signpost identical to the one at Cape Reinga:
Surely the signpost meant that we found ourselves at the very other end of the country, right? Wrong. We checked our Lonely Planet guidebook and found that the phrase ‘Cape Reinga to Bluff’ actually derives from the fact that State Highway One begins at Cape Reinga and terminates at Stirling Point, which meant that we never reached the northernmost point of the country at all, we just found the top end of the highway! All of New Zealand felt like a big lie.
Hopeful that we could turn our day around we done a bit more research and then jumped back in the van to drive for another hour to Slope Point, where we found the most underwhelming signpost imaginable:
In fairness, I guess if we’d have found something amazing at the very bottom of New Zealand it would have left us disappointed at the fact that we didn’t ever get to the very top. This on the other hand left us quite chuffed that we didn’t waste the money on diesel.
We didn’t want to turn back on ourselves and stay in Bluff as originally planned so carried on driving again. We took a spectacular route through Catlins Forest Park until we found Kaka Point Camping Ground, after nearly eight hours on the road. Despite the mistakes and confusion we found ourselves 170km closer to Christchurch than expected at the end of the day, so it wasn’t all bad!
Day 155 – Tuesday 25th October 2016
We had a great night’s sleep and woke up ready to get exploring early this morning, starting at Kaka Point. By midday we’d already visited the Nugget Point Lighthouse and stopped to check out a group of huge rocks known as The Nuggets:
The weather wasn’t on our side, but instead of accepting defeat we headed for Dunedin Holiday Park where we checked in early to secure ourselves a good spot before heading into the city. Informally known as ‘Edinburgh of The South’, Dunedin is the seventh largest city in New Zealand, has the oldest university in the country, and is absolutely full of students. There’s loads of interesting places to visit too, like the Toitu Octagon Settlers Museum, the Public Art Gallery, the Speight’s Brewery and the Larnach Castle. Unsure of what to do, and fully aware that everywhere would be closed by 17:00, we decided to save some pennies and take ourselves on an unguided tour of the cities street art. We walked for what seemed like ages and took countless photos – here’s a few of my favourites:
We stopped at a store on the way back for what will probably be our last big shop before we return the van on Saturday. It’s been lovely, but it looks like we timed it just right – any more than three weeks and I think we’d have started to get a bit sick of it.