After saying goodbye to the farm, again, Cara and Axel headed off to Gore to Cara’s host family (she lived in NZ for 6 months a few years ago) while me and George went into town so George could get his teeth whitened. Getting his teeth whitened took hours, literally. We were there for over 2hours. Once George was finally satisfied with his pearly whites we hit the road.
The rugged coastline along the south east of the country is practically untouched and although incredibly beautiful has a tiny population, averaging around 1200 for an area the size of London. We took the southern scenic route which, as the name suggests, was very scenic, First stop off was Slope Point, the most southern point of the south Island.
It was a short drive down gravel roads, a 20 minute walk and then we got to the point where it helpfully informed up it was still another 4803km to the south pole!
Next up was Curio Bay. I’d have happily stayed here the rest of the day as it was beautiful with high cliffs separating an expansive stretch of golden sand from craggy boulders that the waves raged against. George went to sit down on the boulders for an hour or so while I went on a walk up the cliff and I am so, so glad I did! As I was heading back I saw a penguin, because it was so still I originally thought it was a statue, but as I bent to take a photo it moved it’s head. Not 5 minutes later another one arrived and they both sat there while I stared and took photos!
George wanted to set out though as we were meant to be meeting Cara and Axel at a pre-arranged campsite and there isn’t any signal in the Catlins so we couldn’t call. On the way we decided to do a detour off to Mclean Falls as their meant to be lovely… only we never quite made it to the falls.
We were trundling along the gravel roads when we come to a sharp corner where we skidded off the road. One the plus, like a lot of NZ roads, one side of the road was a sheer cliff down to solid rock, and we didn’t go off the road on that side so, yay, we’re here to live another day. But by missing the sheer drop we went into the muddy, marshy side, where you sank to your ankles as soon as you stepped out. Half of Bernard was well and truly entrenched in the mud while his other two wheels clung to the side of the road. After a couple attempts to right ourselves we realized the mud just kept devouring more and more of the wheels, even some Americans who stopped couldn’t budge him. The verdict was we were going to have to be towed out, and it was going to have to be a big truck. We were well and truly stuck, with no signal, on a tiny gravel road, and the only way we were getting out was a tow truck. With that me and George set off walking to the nearest sign of civilization.
The walk to the whistling Frog wasn’t too long, but when we got their the news wasn’t great, phoning anything in the Catlins is expensive and a tow truck was going to cost as much as the car, since they’d have to drive for two hours to get near us and then attempt to find us on the back road… The owner was lovely though and offered to ring her neighbor who owns the farm next door and had a pretty big car that might be able to pull us out.
Well, Tim needs to be knighted. He picked us up, pulled the car out in barely any time at all and then refused to take anything for his troubles! We didn’t have any cash but we offered repeatedly that we’d buy him a drink and a meal at the whistling frog but he said it was no trouble and refused to take anything instead telling us to have a drink at the whistling frog ourselves.
We ended up having dinner and a drink at the café as by this time it was nearly 9 at night, we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and we felt we deserved a treat after that experience. After gathering our nerves together we set off for the campsite where Cara and Axel would undoubtedly be worrying about us
Getting to the bay sadly wasn’t easy going either as it was more gravel roads, which George has now said he’s never driving on again, and nothing was sign posted so we had to just guess which road was right. Luckily it stays light until very late here as we didn’t get the campsite until gone 11!
Our tired attempt at setting up the tent!
The beautiful camp site!
We did make it to the campsite, which has no drinking water; weird ‘vault toilets’ (which are basically holes in the ground which make your bum cold) but is in possibly my favorite location. We, obviously, had a quick dip in the sea at midnight, set up the tent and then crashed out!