I got a car last week with three other girls, all from the states. We’ve been learning how to drive on the left side of the road, which isn’t actually as hard as I thought it would be. We did a test drive to the nearby St. Clair beach last week. It was quite windy and cold, but still beautiful and still full of surfers even in the middle of the winter.
We took our first road trip this weekend and it went great! On Saturday morning we drove about an hour south of Dunedin to the Catlins, saw as many sites as we could see, spent the night in a cabin at a Christian camp, completed a 5 hour hike, and made it home before sunset on Sunday.
Our first stop was the incredible Nugget Bay. That was my favorite stop. On the way out to the point there was a beach where penguins live, but unfortunately we weren’t there at the right time to see them. In the winter, the penguins spend most of the day out fishing and don’t return to the beach until after 3pm. We stopped to look at the beach and ran into some kiwis coming back from the point that told us it was too foggy and you couldn’t see anything. They said it was hardly worth going up there, but we were determined. So we drove up to the next parking lot and walked out to the point. Kiwis must just be spoiled, because we thought it was a great view! There was a light house at the end and huge rocks extending way out into the water. The ocean is a surprisingly light blue color that looks almost tropical.
We got back in our little purple car and made our way very slowly on curvy gravel roads cut into the hills to Cannibal and Surat Bays. They were huge soft sandy beaches with the occasional sea lion enjoying the sunshine.
We walked from Cannibal Bay to Surat Bay and almost walked right on top of two wrestling sea lions as we attempted to enter the Surat Bay. We stood up on a ledge and watched them for a while. They are huge and fascinating animals.
We ran into another group of international students and went to Jack’s Blowhole and Purakanui Falls. Then we had a ridiculously expensive dinner in the tiny tiny little town of Owaka on our own and then had a relaxing wine night in our little Christian cabin.
This morning, we got up early and went on a five hour hike. The trail followed a river through the hills near Owaka in the Catlins. The trail was full of wire/cable bridges that were a little shocking at first, but seemed to work fine.
There are sheep EVERYWHERE.
And now it’s time to finish my weekend with a little homework and some studying for a plant ecology lab test tomorrow. Cheers!