Daily Archives: April 18, 2017

That bright thing in the sky

Something was different when we awoke. It wasn’t raining. We hadn’t planned much for the day, beaten down as we were by the sodden weather and anticipating the cornerstone of our whirlwind South Island tour, Milford Sound, scheduled for the next day in Fiordland National Park. Before we left Invercargill we felt obliged to make the pilgrimage to E. Hayes, a massive hardware and housewares store with an impressive collection of classic Indian and other motorcycles and a few cars. 

The signature piece is the World’s Fastest Indian, one of the replicas of an Indian Scout motorbike specially engineered to break the land speed record. The story of Burt Munro’s record attempt at the Bonneville Salt Flats is told in The World’s Fastest Indian, the movie the replicas were created for. 

There are some wacky early ideas to motorize bicycles. Not sure about this one. 

It was fun to see the bikes, but the sunshine was beckoning and we were keen to get on the road. We just let the road take us and stopped wherever the mood struck us to appreciate the expansive views and the dry weather. 

Gemstone Beach had me digging through the high tide line for pretty rocks and wishing I had a tumbler to polish them.

There are plenty of suspension and swing bridges in New Zealand but this is the longest, built in 1899 with a wood deck. 

We had a hard time staying in the car but eventually we could see the mountains of Fiordland and the rivers and lakes that carved the landscape. 

We ended the day at our home for the next couple of nights, the Fiordland National Park Lodge, in a room with this view. For hill people who live at sea level these mountain scenes feed our souls. I can’t stop grinning.

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In search of a little wisdom 

Our wipers are still slapping the same tune, it’s just a different day. We thought that before leaving charming Dunedin we’d check out the town’s famous railway station. Built in 1903 with local blue stone, mosaic tile, and perfectly manicured gardens, it’s impressive but with all the fog, rain, and spray (FRS) you inevitably rush just to get back in a dry car. 

Today featured our usual trifecta (FRS) plus, as an extra added bonus, miles and miles of unsealed, sloppy, washboard roads in Cyclone Cook’s pouring rain. 

I can’t recommend traveling in this weather but we were determined to make it to New Zealand’s southernmost point whether we could see it or not. As it turns out, mostly not. First up was something called the petrified forest. I don’t know, you be the judge.

After a muddy slog, feeling like a rally driver, we reached an innocent-looking gravel car park with an all business looking gate posted with a sign that demanded to be kept closed. With no discernible path we quickly closed the gate and noticed a person far off in the FRS. This must be the place. 

First order of business was dancing around all of the sheep dung, which was everywhere, and then avoiding a thousand pairs of starring eyes. I find this creepy. While buying my water-resistant jacket we had the foresight to pick up a tiny folding umbrella and when I deployed it I sensed a certain tension in the sheep. All over the field was evidence of inattentive footprints sliding through sheep shit patties. The sheep may look up but I’m looking down! 

It seemed like years but like all treks, you get there eventually, maybe a little wiser but a lot wetter. Even in the rain at 46 degrees 40 minutes 40 seconds South, Slope Point is an awesome place and is as far south as you can go on South Island.

On the way to Bluff Point, I couldn’t tell you when, I noticed the little Yaris wasn’t bouncing and shuddering anymore. Pavement, it’s a beautiful thing. We found two Bluff Points, one apparently illegitimate but we don’t judge. 

Invercargill finally hove into view and that’s where we sleep tonight. There are rumors for a dryer day tomorrow with Cyclone Cook moving off. One can only hope.

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