Tales of {NZ} Travel: the journey so far

Tales of NZ TravelAs I’ve been writing about the various places in New Zealand that we’ve visited, it suddenly occurred to me that some of you may not be able to visualise where this this journey is taking you. As I picture our country and map out a route that makes perfect sense to me, you might be left scratching your head.

Well, dear reader, wonder no more! Here is a very badly edited* map of New Zealand for your viewing pleasure.

NZ MapSo far, we’ve gone bush in The Catlins, eaten delicious seafood in Invercargill & Bluff, admired stunning landscapes in Fiordland, been adventuring in Queenstown, journeyed through Central Otago, relaxed in Wanaka, explored the rugged The West Coast, and enjoyed wine and sunshine in Nelson-Marlborough.

Now that we’re at the top of the South Island, we’re going to jump islands and tiki tour around the North Island, before heading back over the strait to visit the east coast of the south.

*I usually use PicMonkey to edit images, but it seems to be having a wee barney with the laptop at the moment. Sigh. Paint it is then.


Tales of {NZ} Travel: Invercargill & Bluff

Tales of NZ TravelInvercargill always gets a bit of flack from the rest of New Zealand, mostly for its slow-pace and “country” feel. I’ve visited the city a few times, and it’s definitely not the most exciting of cities, but it isn’t awful. However, it seems to be a place you might just pass through, or use as a base for exploring other southern areas.

A very good friend of mine used to work and live in New Zealand’s southern-most city, so I have visited a few times. To be honest, I’m struggling to recall what we did whilst there, other than visit numerous restaurants and dodgy bars!

Queens Park
Queens Park is a nice area for a stroll; the gardens are really pretty and there are lots of paths to wander down on a nice day. The Southland Museum and Art Gallery is located at one end of the park, and houses New Zealand’s oldest living tuatara – you could spend hours watching and waiting for him to move!

Queens Park1Riverton
It is always worth the 30km drive to Riverton, if only to pick up some hideous gaudy paua and shell kiwiana.

South of Invercargill, Bluff is New Zealand’s southern-most town. Famed for its oysters, Tiwai Point and once, the Paua Shell House, this sleepy little place is the gateway to Stewart Island.The harbour is always crammed with boats, and the smell of the aluminium smelter competes with the smell of the sea.

IMG_9596Our visit to The Catlins last year coincided with the Bluff Oyster Festival; oysters, blue cod and other sea-dwelling foods cooked in a multitude of ways…we were in seafood-lovers’ heaven! Being a little over seven months pregnant, there wasn’t a huge amount for me to sample (I’ve tried mutton bird before, and I wasn’t going there again!), but the fish was as fresh as possible, and it was a fun day. Tiny was enthralled by the helicopters offering 20 minute rides, but not keen on the noise.


Tales of {NZ} Travel: The Catlins

Tales of NZ TravelThe Catlins is an area just over an hour south of Dunedin, and is somewhere I have been a number of times. We took Tiny there when he was one, and it was  great – he wasn’t walking at that stage, but strapping him in to the Ergo made it a really easy place to visit.

The ever-changing landscape is simply stunning – the rugged and wild coast, deserted beaches and dense forest make for a dramatic journey, regardless of the time of year.

The biggest town in the area is Owaka…which isn’t very big at all! We stayed in the town last year, while on our last family-of-just-three holiday, and can highly recommend Catlins Retreat B&B as a wonderful place to stay. There isn’t much to see in the town itself, although Teapot Land is worth stopping at for a giggle.

Teapotland (1)

Highlights of The Catlins include:

Cathedral Caves
Situated on Waipati Beach, the two main caves join together within the cliff; the ceilings have a distinct cathedral shape, and are more than 30 metres high. The caves are only accessible at low tide, and there is a 30 minute forest walk to the beach.

Cathedral Caves (6)

Nugget Point
The “nuggets” are chunks of rock that have eroded over time and resemble nuggets of gold submerged in the ocean. The wild views from the lighthouse are breathtaking, and the semi-steep walk back to the car is certainly worth it!

Nugget Point (7)

Nugget Point (23)

Nugget Point (26)

Purakaunui Falls
These beautiful falls are best seen following a few days of rain – in the height of a dry summer, they aren’t as spectacular as I know they can be! They cascade down from around 20 metres, and fall over three tiers of rock, and the short walk through a beech forest provides the perfect “secluded” feel.

Purakaunui Falls (5)

Curio Bay
This area is of significance because of its fossilised forest dating back around 160 million years. If you’re lucky, and pick the right time, you might also see little yellow-eyed penguins coming up the beach.

Cathedral Caves (3)