Southern Crossing

After spending a day checking out Dunedin, the South Island’s second largest city, I decided to jump onto the Southern Scenic Route for a few days. That would take me from the southeast, around the southern peninsula, and then up into Fiordland National Park in the southwest.

The weather is looking ominous as I arrive at Kaka Point


Love the name.

Just up the way, it’s a pretty cool trek out to the lighthouse at Nugget Point


And the view once you get out there isn’t too shabby


The resemblance of the rocks to gold nuggets supposedly inspired the name. Not sure what a gold nugget actually looks like, but I am sure it was worth a visit here, especially with seals lounging around on the rocks below


Veering inland, it’s endless green


And endless sheep


Looks like these guys have just had their wool sheared. I heard that the reigning sheep shearing champion can shear all of the wool from a sheep in something like eight seconds. Even more incredibly, he seems to enjoy semi-celebrity status as a result of this prowess. I think if you made a farmer-sheep joke here you would insult the entire rural population of New Zealand. Sheep outnumber humans 12 to 1 in New Zealand.

Stopped off for lunch at the Parakaunui Falls


And by the end of the day, I found myself closer to the South Pole than the Equator for the first time in my life


Bluff is at the southern tip of the South Island, and it is definitely not shorts weather


Nevertheless, on day four I decided to go even further south, to Stewart Island, New Zealand’s “third island.”

As the fast cat sped across the Foveaux Straight that morning, the water was close to a sheet of glass


This was thrilling after the captain told me that 20 foot seas here are not unusual.

As we arrived at Stewart Island, it looked like the perfect place to spend a day exploring


There’s a network of trails that takes you through the woods


This guy was devouring tree bark for lunch


The trails also run along ridges above the sea


Although it was still cool enough out that I could see my breath, a couple of hours of minor exertion lead to a serious sweat


Some things never change.

This area is part of the roaring forties – there’s a constant wind from the west at this latitude. If you like changes in the weather, stick around for ten minutes, you won’t be disappointed


It took no more than 30 seconds for that entire peninsula to become obscured in a cloud


Down on the beach doing a little heavy lifting


Or not. What are the odds?


Overall, a great day on Stewart Island. At forty six and a half degrees below the equator, it would be the farthest south that my entire journey has taken me. Time to start heading north.

Leaving the southern tip and heading up the southwest coast to Monkey Island, a one time Maori whale lookout, I find I am in luck. It is only accessible during low tide, which seems to be now


No whales to be seen out there in Te Waewae Bay, but still no worries


I was showing a fellow traveler some photos at a pub last night and he asked why I always raise my hands in the air for photos. I told him to think of Andy Dufrain crawling a quarter mile through a sewage pipe to escape from the Shawshank State Penitentiary, and his first gesture when he emerged on the other side. Freedom!

The great names continue


Fiordland National Park looms in the background.

A few hours later I am right in the middle of it


It was pretty late in the day already, but with the sun shining I wanted to make it over The Divide (or through the tunnel I should say) and down to Milford Sound, where I have heard it is often cloudy and rainy.

Pretty enormous


To get an idea of the size, take a look at the boat on the horizon. That happens to be a fairly large cruise ship.

Much like the road leading to Mt. Cook, the road to Milford Sound was incredible. With only one way in and out of Milford Sound, I backtracked slowly

The Milford Sound side of The Divide is beautiful


My head was definitely in the clouds


But once you go back through the tunnel to the interior side of The Divide, it gets even better











I just kept shaking my head, saying “wow” and smiling. Absolutely stunning. Not a bad way to close out day five of the New Zealand road trip.

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