Friday, October 7, 2016

Our South Island Adventure Day Seven

Bluff to Stewart Island

There are only two ways to get from the mainland to Stewart Island: ferry or plane. I thought the former was the lesser of two evils. Now I’m not so sure. (Apparently it was a calm crossing.)

There was a shock awaiting us on the island. We had booked ahead months ago but accommodation in the mid range had been fully booked and we had decided to give the luxury accommodation a miss and had thus settled on something in the budget range that we thought would be suitable. One look at our accommodation and I was ready to get on the ferry and return to civilisation!

However, I must have absorbed some of that pioneering spirit that has inspired us over the course of the last few days, for I decided to make the most of it. After all, I’ve roughed it before – the only difference is that in the past, I was able to plan ahead and ensure we had what we needed to ‘rough it’. (Oh why didn’t we pack a solar shower?)

Still, it is a pretty place, and once we’d dropped our bags off, we set off on foot to explore. Four and a half hours later we had discovered a stone house that once housed a family of eleven, visited a [disappointing] lighthouse, explored a beautiful and secluded bay, and become quite expert at bird watching.



Our host is rather eccentric … like our accommodation. Thankfully some other guests arrived and we now know how and where to have a hot shower. You can cope with a lot as long as you can have a hot shower! (Up to this point we had imagined we would be showering the way we did in Indonesia: scooping cold water from a bucket and pouring it over ourselves.)

One of the challenges I have had this holiday has been pain in both shoulder blades. I don’t know if this is from the long hours of sitting in a car, from tension (it always seems to go to my upper back and I had had some emotional upheaval before we left for our holiday), or a combination of both (I’m thinking this most likely). DH also seems to think that my knitting on the plane and in the car hasn’t helped. He could be right. But whatever the cause, this is when a hot shower is so very welcome. At least I know this is now a possibility.

Whatever the shortcomings of our accommodation there is much surrounding us to create awe and wonder.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16 (NKJV)

(Note: This website contains a wealth of information about Stewart Island, getting there, places to stay, things to do, etc. The place where we stayed is not listed on this website and we have not experienced the other ones listed under budget accommodation and therefore cannot comment or make recommendations.)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Our South Island Adventure Day Six

Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) to Bluff

Whereby we escape sand flies. I suspect this must be the only place in the world where sand flies are honoured! DH has accused me of waving at strange men (no doubt in part because a strange man waved at me in Te Anau apparently after I smiled at him – I didn’t but he obviously thought so – and DH has used the incident to his advantage to tease me unmercifully) but I’ve only been batting the flies away. Considering I react badly to sand fly bites, I have emerged relatively unscathed. Tally so far = one.

And whereby we are officially back in Southland after two days in Fiordland. Even now I’m not sure if we’re fully in Southland as Fiordland is on one side of the road and Southland the other, but for simplicity’s sake let’s call it Southland.



It was cloudier driving out than it had been in, and definitely shorter since we made less stops. We travelled via Manapouri (where we stopped at Pearl Harbour) ...

... Clifden (where we stopped to explore limestone caves and also an historic suspension bridge ...and photograph two chickens outside the caves) ...


... to Invercargill, and finally to Bluff. Bluff is known as the bottom of the South Island, although technically that honour goes to a small landmark several kilometres from here (and which we may not be able to visit because it's generally closed at this time of year due to lambing). Our cottage where we are staying is quirky with up and down floors, a califont for hot water and which makes an incredible racket when you turn it on, a kitchen too small to swing a cat, and bookshelves in doorways and part walls removed. But it's warm and comfortable and home for a night. 

From Fiordland to Bluff has been quite a journey … tomorrow we leave the mainland for Stewart Island … another long held dream.

Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which Thou hast done, and Thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto Thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. Psalm 40:5 (KJV)


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Our South Island Adventure Day Five

Milford Sound

I have one complaint about today’s activity: it was far too short! After years of wanting to cruise Milford Sound I finally got to do it. Of course, to be correct it should be called Milford Fiord not Milford Sound, but I’m not going to quibble over a name. Whatever it’s called it is incredible, spectacular, absolutely worthwhile, awesome, magnificent, and a few other adjectives that I could use if I had my thesaurus by my side.



We were on one of the smaller boats and got to experience Milford up close. As in, we could touch some of the overhanging trees. But not just trees. When we ventured near to one of the waterfalls, the crew put a tray of glasses on the front of the boat which were subsequently filled with water from the waterfall. The crew and some passengers at the front got wet: DH and I slightly so. But it was worth it to enjoy a glass of water straight from its source. But our friendly commentator who ended up soaked through must have been somewhat cold afterwards. I know I was and I had hat, jacket, gloves and The Ugly Socks to warm me.


When we approached a second waterfall we were warned that there would be a lot of spray. Several people chose to go inside but I stayed outside. However, DH had already gone inside to change the battery in his camera and missed all the action (and hence no photos)! Yes, I got wet but it was exhilarating. Definitely a high point! And one I’d love to do again!

Another highlight was a visit to the underwater observatory. I was worried how I’d go but once I got downstairs (10 m below the surface) I was so fascinated with the fish and coral and marine life that I forgot my fear of enclosed spaces and being underwater. This, too, went too quickly and soon we were back on [another] boat and returning to the terminal.


As well as being overwhelmed by the beauty of this place, I am also interested in the history. All of my blog posts have been written offline and posted after our holiday. With no cell phone coverage and limited or no internet access for large chunks of our trip, I have been made aware that we are fairly isolated. But go back in history one hundred years or more and it’s inconceivable (to me at least) just how isolated the early settlers in this area must have been.

Before returning to our accommodation today we visited the graves of Donald and Elizabeth Sutherland, the first to live in this area, and the first to offer accommodation in this area (mostly to those courageous – or foolish - enough to do the journey on foot). When Donald died, Elizabeth was approximately 75 years old and didn’t have the strength to move him. It was five weeks before help arrived and he could be buried! I doubt I would have had the strength or the courage to deal with my grief and such circumstances while being all alone. Methinks people were cut from a different mould back then!

Among the gods there is none like unto Thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto Thy works. Psalm 86:8 (KJV)