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Southern Scenic Route

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The Southern Scenic Route

We are pretty sure that this route was dreamed up by a marketing person working for the Kiwi Department of Tourism.  She was probably addressing complaints of excess tourists in the absolutely stunning northern and southwestern parts of the South Island.  "Hey, I have an idea!  I'll put this route on all the free tourist maps that we hand out and then more people will take it!"  Don't get me wrong here, we enjoyed our time on the Southern Scenic Route, we just think that this is a bit of a high-falutin' title for a tiny, windy, barely two lane road that was just fully paved in the last 2 years.   

This is part of what makes it scenic: 


That said, we did drive most of the route - it officially begins in Te Anau, but we started east of Invercargill, after first picking up friends in Queenstown.


Niagara Falls


Okay, you see a tourist sign that says Niagara Falls, you just have to stop, right?  We did. 

Want to see them?



Curio Bay


The Fossilised Forest


Along the water's edge at Curio Bay is the remains of an ancient forest.  It is thought that this forest dates back to the days when all the continents were joined together as one.  Then this particular forest was buried under ash from a volcano, and then covered by a rising ocean.  From a distance, you can see many long flat rocks.  These, it turns out, are fallen tree trucks.  You can also see rocks that are round bumps.  Upon closer examination, there are tree stumps.  Some of these fossilised trees even have a brown/tan color!



The Wild Side of Curio  Bay

Dusky Oystercatcher

Yellow-eyed Penguin

The Yellow-eyeds are the rarest penguins.  They are the third largest, after the king and emperor penguins.  Like their cousins the Blues they spend the day out fishing and come to shore in the early evening. All of their chicks have fledged (or perhaps I should say swum?}, so many of them choose to stay out at sea.  On this evening we only spotted two coming in, of the twelve known residents.


The Back Bay


We drove around to the back bay, and spotted a pod of Hector dolphins, the smallest dolphins.  We could not convince any of the kids to swim out for a photo.  Of course it was a little chilly.   




Our first seal


This seal (or is he a sea lion?) was just resting on the dolphin beach when we arrived.  After a while, we decided to ham it up for his audience.  He walked up the grassy knoll and preened right there in front of everyone at the picnic ground. 


Sunrise at Curio Bay



The Cathedral Caves


We weren't at all sure we should be driving our house on the road leading to the parking lot for these caves.  Then when we got there the parking attendant told us something about only having a 1 meter tide today, and did we actually want to do the 20 minute walk down to the beach.  Since we couldn't figure out what this meant, not being ocean folk, we figured we go for it.  

The path down was certainly lovely, as was the long walk down the beach.



About now we were getting an idea of what he meant.


There were two routes to take to the cave.  The low route (demonstrated by Yannis) and the high route (by Tasha).



Once there the cave was lovely, though not huge, or deep or otherwise spectacular...  My boots dried in about 36 hours...  Guess which route I took! 


Otogo Peninsula


 It looked easy enough on the map.  The man who rented us the bikes said that the path over the hill was steep, but with just 10 minutes walking we would be over it.  Oh, our bums are still sore...

                                                    "The Pyramids"


A patient photographer (other than Yannis).




The Otago Peninsula has both yellow-eyed penguins and blue (or fairy) penguins.  The blue fish all day and only emerge just after dusk, when it is far to dark to photograph them without extra lighting, which could be very harmful to them. So although we saw blues several times on our trip, we haven't any good photos of them.  The yellow-eyeds had fledged their young and were in the process of or had just completed their annual molt, so many of them were on land where we could see them!  Usually during the day these guys are out fishing. 

Here is one in full molt! 
Here is one of the hides from which we could watch the penguins without disturbing them too much. 


Albatross and other Flying Birds


  Yannis has learned that albatrosses need to be photographed portrait rather than landscape!  Their wingspan is larger than their body length!




Dunedin is a cute little town.  It is the first town we had visited in a week, and it was nice to pick up a few vital things, such as embroidery thread, at the shops.  We also visited the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, though we had to forego the brewery.  We did swing by Baldwin Street for a Guinness Book Of World Records' moment, however.  This is the steepest street in the world - 38% grade. 


The Cadbury Chocolate Factory


Like almost all of our factory tours (pianos, silicone recycling, light bulbs, cars, and chocolate) no photography was permitted inside.  But we did take this lovely full group shot to share.

The  Southern Scenic Route on the map ends (or begins) in Dunedin.  We carried on heading up the eastern coast of the South Island.  This area seems to be called Canterbury.


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Last modified: 06/13/08