Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Stewart island - How Low Can You Go?

Tuesday 11/9
Got up, and went down and sorted out accommodation on Stewart island (we'd tried, but couldn't get hold of them by phone) and the bus to Dunedin on Friday. We had just enough time to find out accommodation in Dunedin for the weekend would be hard to find, due to an All Blacks match being played there. Anyhow, went and caught my bus. In Queenstown it had snowed over night, and as we left it began snowing a little. As we got further down Lake Whakatipu, the snow got serious.
At a place called Athol we had to stop for a while as the road was closed, so I had a toilet stop and hot chocolate. All of a sudden we got going again, albeit slowly. It seemed once we got out of Otago and into Southland, the snow totally cleared up, and made the last hour seem like another lifetime.
Even with the delay due to the snow, I had the best bit of 3 hours in Invercargill before I had to catch my transfer to the ferry terminal in Bluff. So the first thing I did was sort out some accommodation in Dunedin for the weekend, thanks to the help of the lovely i-Site staff. I then went about looking at the attached museum, which was totally awesome, they had tuatara, art, a couple of things on local hero Burt Munro - of the Fastest Indian fame, including a video documentary, some Victorian era exhibits, and also a section on the southern islands, such as Auckland Island, Campbell Island, the Snare Islands, etc.
After doing all that I had about half an hour left, and thought maybe I should grab some milk and more cash, and lunch, as I hadn't really thought about it due to the loss of my appetite after the food poisoning in Wanaka (and it was now 3pm). In the end I just grabbed some milk and 2 slices of bacon and egg pie. I ate 1 slice of the pie, which was beautiful, but now wish I had held off until after the ferry trip, as I threw it back up on the rough ferry ride.

Anyhow, once I checked in to my hostel on Stewart island I went to the pub and had fish and chips.

Wednesday 12/9
Woke up full of a cold at about 6:30am, stayed in bed reading until about 9:30. Got up and had some breakfast, and then casually walked towards the i-Site. I passed the museum, and thought I may as well check it out. I did, didn't take long as only 2 rooms but well worth the $2 fee. I had to laugh as there was a picture of a woman who had two daughters that married two brothers. Later on that woman then married the father of the brothers (ie doing little to dispel rumours of inbreeding on small islands). I had a good chat to the woman on the desk, and she mentioned Ulva island which I intended to do, she rang the water taxi company and informed me I could catch one in 20 minutes, so I did.
Ulva island was awesome, birds, beaches, trees, and seals. Again had to laugh when a pamphlet on birds mentioned that one bird ended up mating with his great great granddaughter. Ulva is pest free, so it is used by D.O.C. to protect and breed species. Broke my southern most record again (southern most place in the world I have been). Funny story - I had been reading a book I had picked up in Wanaka, which happened to mention something called Ambergris, which I had never heard of. Anyhow, as it always is, once you learn a new word, or learn a new fact, you happen to come across it several times relatively soon. As I walked along the above beach I came across something grey and clay looking that I thought may be some ambergris, but got quickly convinced otherwise when I saw the blowfly in it and the proximity of some more, and of course the close proximity of the seal pictured below.
When I came back I walked around to Thule bay, and then through another bushwalk, up to a lookout, and then along another bushwalk, in the hope of seeing some Kiwis or the Southern Lights.
Came back, had a quick lie down, had some soup and checked out the kea/kakapo that were hanging about the hostel then went back to see if the kiwis had come out (hadn't) with some others. I then come down to have a look to see what the story with penguins was. Sounds scarce. Since it started to rain a bit I decided a pub meal was in order. Instead of $16.50 on eftpos they put through $61.50, which actually worked for me as it gave me some cash. Had another look for kiwi, no luck. Went to bed and read for a bit.

Thursday 13/9
Stayed in bed for a while, read. Got up, had shower and then turned on tv to watch while I ate breakfast. Saw Hamish Blake (as in Hamish and Andy - Australian comedy duo/ radio djs) and Bret Mackenzie (Flight of the Conchords) were to be on Good Morning a bit later on, so sat through all the advertorials (Suzanne Paul and some annoying enthusiastic Aussie dude) and finally they appeared. Once that had happened I decided I may as well have an early lunch - so I had a sour cream and chives pasta packet I have been carrying with me. It seemed bland, but that might be my cold.

Anyway, went to the i-Site, and from there decided to walk to a lighthouse. I think the lady made it sound easier than it was. It was nice and peaceful, and I saw an old stone building which is one of the oldest buildings in New Zealand apparently. The lighthouse was a bit budget, I was hoping for a old concrete one, where this was a new small glorified beacon. I decided while I was at it I would check out a monument on the way back. Unfortunately the map was a bit misleading, and lead me to make some wasted effort, but in the end I got there, albeit I was over walking by the time I got back to the township. I had a crayfish for dinner as I figured when in Rome... I'm not sure if it was because I have a cold, but I thought it was bland. I checked my emails then returned to the hostel to read and watch tv for a bit. I would have liked to go out again to see if I could see kiwi, but I was just too stuffed.

Friday 14/9
Woke up just before 7am, decided I would try and see some kiwis, so walked up the bush walk behind the hostel, and through the park, gave it about 10minutes then left. Thought I'd go and look at the waterfront for a bit, bought something at the shop and then visited the information centre again, I decided I would do the van tour, as I might not see the rest of the island if I didn't, and I could face walking again, especially as this other way is more hilly. Besides, I figured it would give me a historical insight as well. Sorted myself out at hostel, including having some breakfast, and did the tour. It seemed to be hosting a Maori group of some kind, so it was quite humorous. Went to the pub for lunch - trying to manage my stomach for the journey across the straight again.

Got talking to some of the group on the way back, they were from a rugby club in Manukau, and have come down to see the all blacks game in Dunedin the next day. Got across ok, and on to Dunedin.
This was in the pub at Stewart Island. I thought the humour was good.

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