Today was our longest driving day. After a tasty breakfast at the Dunedin Distinction Hotel, we were on the road headed for the southernmost point in New Zealand.
This country really caters to tourists. As you’re driving along, anything that might be a tourist attraction is posted on a brown sign instead of the usual blue and green highway signs. The first attraction that caught our eye was a sign for waterfalls (we’re suckers for waterfalls of any size). We pulled over and took a 35-minute return (round trip) walk to two beautiful waterfalls. Once again, the paths are well maintained for easy access to the falls.
Another tourist benefit is a blue sign depicting a shade tree and a picnic table. These are usually quaint little spots to pull over for a rest and/or picnic. Shawn refers to them as wine tasting spots because we saw two elderly ladies enjoying a bottle of wine under a shady tree canopy. He said that’s also why we carry a bottle of wine at all times. We’ve yet to stop and have a glass of wine on the roadside, but we still have a few days left.
We continued on the scenic route through the rolling hills and over many rivers and through small towns until we came across a cafe in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. They were very much about natural food and sustainability, similar to our farm-to-fork movement. Their homemade bread on my salmon sandwich and Shawn’s burger was great. They marinate and smoke the salmon on site. The cafe is in an old schoolhouse, and as they say, they like to keep it old school.
Back on the road, we headed to Slope Point which is the southernmost point in New Zealand. We swore we would never go on another gravel road, but it was our only option this time. After winding 20+ kilometers through sheep country, we ended at a pasture and then took a 20-minute walk through the grasslands (and sheep and sheep poo) out to the bluff to see the sign (the sights were pretty impressive too).
A few times during our trip, we have been getting close to our destination for the night and I wonder what have we gotten ourselves into? This is one of those days. We drove into Bluff and it has a very industrial look about it, similar to Alaskan fishing towns. There is a huge aluminum smelting plant that employs a large number of people in the area. We drove through the small gray town and just on the outskirts we came to Bluff Ocean Vista Motel. It’s really part motel and part B&B. We are staying upstairs in the main house, so the B&B portion. Lisa our hostess is very friendly and says she grew up in the hotel business. They’ve had this and a few other nearby properties for five years. She told us about the local attractions including the ferry ride to Stewart Island (but the water can be a bit “lumpy”) and shark cage diving (a 10-hour day and very expensive $700 NZD per person.
We opted to walk a kilometer down the road to the local eatery for fresh oysters and salmon and an ocean view. Aside from Stewart Island, Stirling Point is the bottom tip of New Zealand (not to be confused with Slope Point which is the southernmost point in NZ). From our table at Oyster Cove, we could see four islands: Dog Island, Stewart Island, Ruapuke Island and Bird Island.
After dinner, we found another well-maintained trail and took a 600m walk uphill to see the old gun battery that protected the south. We made it home before curfew (10:00 PM) and we can hear the muted voices of Mom & Dad downstairs watching TV. Outside our bedroom window, the lights on the pier are twinkling.
Dunedin Distinction Restaurant – 4 Kiwis
Cafe in the middle of nowhere – 4 Kiwis
Oyster Cove – 4.5 Kiwis
Bluff Ocean Vista Motel – 3 Kiwis
Steps taken = 10,314
Meals with salmon = 3 (cured, smoked and fresh)