BootsnAll Travel Network

South and Eastern South Island

As mentioned in the last post, Jayne and I left Te Anua to explore the Caitlins (an area of remote beaches, lighthouses, farms, seals, whales, sea lions, and penguins) in a vehicle that Jayne was borrowing from her future employer. As the vehicle was a diesel and was being borrowed for free, I was looking forward to a few days of reduced transportation cost. Alas it was not to be. On the first day, as we were stopping at various sites on the way to Curio Bay which was our first stop for the night, we lost fourth gear. One might ask how fourth gear could be lost as it is an integral part of the vehicle. Everytime the vehicle was shifted into fourth gear it would pop back into neutral. We decided to continue without fourth gear which led to some rough shifting patterns. Other than the lack of fourth gear the day continued without any other problems. We spent the night in Curio Bay which has a fossilized forest on the beach. Unfortunately neither Jayne nor I could make it out despite walking on the beach and supposedly on the fossilized forest.

The next day as we set out to do more sightseeing. We noticed oil under the vehicle. It seemed to be just a normal oil leak that 12 year old vehicles seem to develop. We went on our way sightseeing and stopping at various interesting places including the southernmost point of the South Island and Nugget Point. Nugget Point has a lighthouse which stands on a high bluff overlooking the ocean. In the ocean in front of the lighthouse there is a train of rocks which resemble nuggets. We did manage to see a colony of sea lions which was our first wildlife viewing. We also stopped at various waterfalls and a blowhole. At each one of these sights we kept losing oil. Everytime we checked the oil, the level never changed which was odd. At some point the truck started making weird noises. Jayne decided to take the vehicle to a mechanic in the town of Balclutha. After being looked at, the mechanic informed us that the gear box was the cause of the oil leak and that the clutch and gear box could go at anytime (we seemed to be losing third gear as well.) The repairs would cost $2500 which was more than the vehicle was worth. I had already repaired the sealing around one of the windows with duct tape. Jayne called the owner of the vehicle who told her just to scrap the vehicle. There was a local second hand auto parts dealer that we were going to try to sell the vehicle to in the morning.

Balclutha is not on the normal tourist stop. As such there is not a wide range of the normal hostels. As a matter of fact, the only hostel that existed was closed for the winter. We ended up renting a cabin at a motor camp. It seemed like something you would have seen or stayed in if you had taken a cross country trip in the US in the 1950’s. Most of the people who stayed there were in vintage looking travel trailers. These trailers were occupied by native New Zealanders instead of the international crowd one encounters in the hostels. Most of the people appeared to consist of older chain smoking men and women in curlers and house coats. I believe many of them were retirees traveling around. As luck would have it, the owner of the motor camp was interested in the truck. He offered Jayne $150 and a free nights stay for it (from which I benefited as well). She took the offer. The next day we caught a bus to Dunedin.

In Dunedin Jayne and I parted. She rented a car to go on to Christchurch and I spent a day exploring the city. My first night in town was spent at a theatre watching Pirates of the Caribbean 3. It was good, but I think it is time for the series to end if they want to end on a high point. The next day I walked around the city. I first went to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory which produces most of New Zealand’s chocolate. I spent about an hour seeing various chocolates being made and of course sampling them. Then I toured the Olverston House which is an Edwardian style mansion built by a man who made his money from the import business. I was the only one on the tour. I then went to Baldwin Street which has the record in Guiness for being the steepest street in the world. I huffed and puffed my way up the 160 meter length to the top. Then to the amusement, I am sure of the people living on the street, I ran back down. While resting at the bottom, I watched a car drive it’s way meekly up to the top and then even more slowly make it’s way back to the bottom. They must have been playing scenes in their heads of what would happen if their brakes failed. A few people have died on the street including a university student who decided to go down the street in a barrow (a wheeled cart).

Mt Cook was my next destination. Mt Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand at something like 3500 meters tall. I caught a bus in the morning and was the only passenger. Because of this, I was able to stop and get some stunning pictures of the sunrise over the Otago Pennisula. This sunrise was probably the richest in color that I had ever seen. I spent two days in Mt Cook watching it rain. It was not all in vain though. The weather did clear up for a an hour or so one evening, so that I could actually see the mountain. I didn’t get to do many of the hikes that I wanted though so I was only partially successful. I am now in Christchurch which is the last stop on my New Zealand tour. In seven more days, I fly to Austrailia. With my time remaining in here, I am taking a day train trip on the Tranzalpine and going to explore the Banks Pennisula which is the French area of New Zealand (sort of like Louisiana in the US or Quebec in Canada).

Notes and New Zealand Observations:

1. Pictures: I will post my South Island pictures next week when I get to Sydney as I am staying at a friend of my Aunt’s house and will hopefully have access to free Internet.

2. Christchurch accomodations: It is currently Queen Elizabeth’s birthday weekend in New Zealand which is a big holiday here. As a result, accomodations in Christchurch are booked solid. I am having to pay more for accomodations than I have become accustomed to paying. In the words of the Queen “We are not amused.”

3. I mentioned earlier that the motor camp in New Zealand was like something out of the 1950’s in the US. Other aspects of New Zealand seem this way as well. The big box store has not taken over here to the extent that it has in the US. City streets are still full of small businesses and brand specific stores.

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5 Responses to “South and Eastern South Island”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Wow, I sure hope you write a book. You have developed quite a skill at telling your story. I have enjoyed reading all of it.
    I am sure you are learning lots.

  2. Posted from United States United States
  3. admin Says:

    I think it would require some rediting if it were to go into a book. Iwould have to come up with a flashy title as well.

  4. Posted from New Zealand New Zealand
  5. Theo Says:

    That death you referred to involving the Steepest Street in Dunedin was in what Kiwis call a “wheelie bin”.

    As you’re North American, they’re the same as those deep plastic garbage containers with “swing open” lids used in Canada and the US for collecting/recycling paper and such, with a pair of wheels to make them more manoeuverable. From what I recall of the NZ TV coverage at the time, the two people involved decided to launch themselves down the Steep Street inside a bin.

    Your Akaroa French Connection I think would raise hackles in Canada’s La Belle Province.

    The French arrived and established themselves in “le Quebec” long before the English decided to involve themselves in the process. Read some Canadian history.

    The French Akaroa expedition was a miniscule attempt at colonisation, and they discovered to their dismay that the Brits had already established themselves with the Canterbury Company in what is now Christchurch, and basically gave up.

    That’s the “unofficial” version.

  6. Posted from Canada Canada
  7. admin Says:

    The resident that I ran into on the street told me it was a barrow but the idea of a wheelie bin certainly doesn’t make the idea sound anymore intelligent.

    In Akoroa, the French residents actually decided to stay in the area despite the British presence. Their other option was to go to Tahiti. The British didn’t attempt colonization of the area until they heard about the French expedition and they then rushed down to the Banks Pennisula to get there before the French. They have also tried to hold onto their French heritage (made just for the tourist) but they were much less successful than Quebec.

    I am well aware of Canadian history. I am descendant of the Acadian people who eventually settled in Louisiana after they were exiled from Acadia in Canada. I would hope the Quebecois would not have their “hackles” raised at a result of my reference to them. Other areas of the world have the right to claim a French heritage irregardless of who got where first.

  8. Posted from Australia Australia
  9. Theo Says:

    re: French in Akaroa:

    Exactly my point: see:


    Les Francais gitting to NZ were outfoxed.

    In Canada, it was the other way ’round. The French “as colonists” were here first.

  10. Posted from Canada Canada

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