There’s been something rather special about telling people that I’ll have travelled from the top of the North Island to the South of the South Island during my time in New Zealand, but now unfortunately it is time for the romance to fade. Whilst we made it incredibly far south (all the way to Bluff) we didn’t make it to either of the southern signposts I was hoping to get a picture of due to a bus driver with alternative plans and a road closure…
Invercargill was the first stop on our tour of the “Deep South” and we didn’t see much of it because we arrived late and left early. According to most people we’ve spoken to we didn’t miss out on much although I’m sure it has its charms. Stewart Island is the main reason for travelling this far south (as far as tourists are concerned). It’s the third largest New Zealand Island as well as being one of the places where you have the most chance of seeing wild kiwis. We sadly didn’t have time to visit but it’s somewhere I’d consider going if I return to New Zealand. We only stopped in Bluff at the ferry port so opportunity one for a signpost photo was missed (thanks driver).
We had a long drive ahead of us through the Catlins, an area of scenic coastline and dense rainforest, to the city of Dunedin so we were prepared for a lot of time on the bus with some scenic stops. We hadn’t anticipated quite so many road closures or a driver with an agenda to get to Dunedin as quickly as possible so we didn’t make quite as many stops as we’d hoped, but what we did see was beautiful.
The first scenic stop was at Waipapa Point which is where we saw wild sea lions. They were incredibly entertaining and certainly knew how to pose for photographs. You could get really close to them on the beach but it was still best to keep some distance as they were pretty big. I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of them! The next scheduled stops for the day were to the southernmost point and Curio Bay to see dolphins but unfortunately the roads to each were closed, leading to a long detour which largely consisted of green fields and sheep.
Our next scenic stop was at Nugget Point which was beautiful – the colour of the water was stunning and it was really clear as well. We had hoped to see some blue penguins here but sadly they seemed to be otherwise occupied. We did see a few more sea lions though.
We only had one night in Dunedin but from what I saw it seemed like quite a cool city. As a student city there seemed to be plenty going on and the Otago Peninsula is meant to be a lovely area to explore. The evening that we arrived we completed the Dunedin Street Art trail which I would thoroughly recommend. The street art is really impressive and it’s a great way to walk around the city and see what it has to offer. The following morning I gave the Cadbury factory a miss (having already been to Cadbury World in Birmingham this year) and instead we went to see the beautiful railway station and the university.
We had actually met the sculptor of the red heart on the university grounds the previous evening (completely by chance – long story!) and so it felt right to go and seek out her work. We unfortunately didn’t have time to go to the museum as well but apparently it is really good. The other main stop in Dunedin was to see Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest residential street. When I first saw it I thought a few in Bristol could give it a run for its money but having walked up and ran back down I can confirm that it’s pretty steep.
The Deep South was an interesting addition to our trip but is possibly my least favourite of what we have seen and done. However, it’s an area that I’d happily return to to explore at my own pace. I’d like to see Stewart Island and some more time in and around Dunedin would also be well spent.