Sunday, March 16, 2008

March 3, 2008 - Bluff and the Catlins Coast

This morning we woke up to another cold gray day, but the rain had finally let up. We took advantage of the break in the weather to walk around Bluff, the southernmost port in the country. As we walked along a coastal track, the trees were filled with the sounds of little gray warblers. Bluff's latitude is 46 deg 36 min South. The Northern Hemisphere equivalent would be somewhere around Nova Scotia. Even in the height of summer, it is wicked cold here, especially once the onshore breeze kicks in.

Bluff is famous (at least in New Zealand) for its oysters. We managed to time our visit perfectly with the opening of the oyster season (or so we thought) and we were looking forward to a lunch of fresh fried oysters at one of the local shops. But due to the utterly crappy weather we've been having the past few days, the boats couldn't get out of the harbor yesterday, so the first oysters of the season wouldn't come ashore until later today. Since we'd already exhausted Bluff's attractions, we decided to push on to the Catlins Coast.
The rugged roads of the Catlins Coast are some of the least-traveled in New Zealand. An old copy of Fodor's, which we picked up at a hostel a few weeks ago, doesn't even cover this part of the country. But dramatic scenery, traversed by few people, seemed exactly like our cup of tea; so, we headed east, hugging the coastal roads. We were rewarded with lots of beautiful scenery (including a petrified forest at Curio Bay), an encounter with penguins (from a distance) and a night at one of the nicest backpacker hostels we've stayed in yet (the Curio Bay Backpacker seemed more like someone's holiday house than a hostel - we had a wonderful evening sharing dinner and chatting with the other three guests).

No comments: