Short post today as today was a “car” day.
Prior to coming to New Zealand we had planned to take the short route from Dunedin to Te Anau which is around 250 km but due to the poor weather and a desire to cover as much ground as possible we decided to turn off the main highway and take the Southern Scenic Route which broadly doubles the distance (to about 450km) and takes in much of the coastal towns which would otherwise have been missed out. On reflection if you are just passing through this is not the right decision as you really need a couple of day (at least) to stop off and do the place justice.
The route takes in the Caitlins and Invercargill (the jumping off point for Stewart Isalnd) and all stops in between and while the Caitlins looks like somewhere to spend some time there is an enormous amount of flat featureless land between the two points, which given this was a very windy day did not really encourage any stops.
We stopped at a couple of beaches just to take a look at the ferocious surf (always good entertainment) but we didn’t feel the urge to stop anywhere else.
Invercargill may not have given the best account of itself and it felt like being somewhere like Dagenham or Skelmersdale i.e. somewhere to pass through on the way to somewhere else. We stopped for fuel and I asked the garage attendant whether there was a nice café somewhere to get a coffee, she looked at me like I had asked whether I could smoke a cigarette while she filled up the car. It turns out she did not know any and that Invercargill mostly had Fast food (just to point out I have nothing against fast food in moderation it was a contrast to other interactions we have had with locals). Anyway, we have been spoilt so far by the beauty of NZ so it stands to reason that places like Invercargill must exist. I might be being unfair but then I read the following article extract in the local “Southland Times”:
“Something I will never get about Invercargill is why there is so much random vandalism … There is so much talk in Invercargill about how to project a better image and attract more people, but the city has a reputation as being full of bogans and losers like the ones who commit vandalism. And let’s be honest. That reputation is deserved.”
As we pressed on the flat plains gradually gave way to spectacular snow peaked mountains and we arrived in Te Anau late afternoon. The scenery reminds me very much of Austria but with less people around…much less, but we will really get time to experience it tomorrow.
We are staying at Dusky Ridges farm stay where we have a very nice two story cottage for the next three nights (hard to believe that we will actually stay in the same place for a full three nights).