2nd May 2013 19:48
So here's my hire car... no, it wasn't worth the wait, you're right. I don't really have anything good to say about it..... it didn't break down? That has to be a plus! I have to say, it's the first time I've driven barefoot too... flip flops just weren't working!
I picked up the car from Dunedin and drove straight down to Owaka, a tiny village near the south east coast. I was staying in a hostel there as the base for my adventures around the area. Due to the distance between the sights, a hire car really was the only option for me. That's the only problem with coaches – they're the cheapest way by far, but they don't always go where you want them to, and you certainly don't have as much freedom as you'd like (exploring sideroads, stopping to take photos etc). And this was definitely an area where you needed to be able to stop to take photos...
I found myself rounding a corner and actually saying "wow" on more than one occasion. Actually I was pretty glad not to have a nice car of my own when driving on some of those roads... quite a few of them were just dirt and rocks! At the very best, if your car wasn't covered in millions of scratches, dents and stonechips, it would be completely filthy and dusty after every drive. I couldn't handle that, my cars need to be constantly clean!
There were a few waterfalls available for my viewing pleasure along the main coastal road in The Catlins. Purakaunui Falls (I have no idea how that's pronounced either) was the first one I arrived at and looked pretty impressive from the photos I'd seen, so I decided that would be the one I visited. I wasn't entirely sure how long my journey would be that day and I wanted to make sure I had enough time to get to the things near the end of the route and then get back to my hostel in time to cook some dinner, so I decided just to stop at that one.
It was smaller than some of the others I'd seen while I was away, but it was in a nicely wooded area and very picturesque, I was pleased with the photos I managed to get.
Further down the road I arrived at Slope Point, the southernmost point on the South Island. Don't believe me?!
Now, as you might expect – being so close to the coast, the wind can sometimes pick up a bit. But I had absolutely no idea this could happen as a result!
I've only ever seen "normal" trees. Do we have trees like this back in England?! I haven't seen them if so... maybe someone can let me know in the comments!
I continued driving through gorgeous countryside and winding coastal road, congratulating myself on making such a brilliant decision to hire a car and go down there! It was very quiet too, not too many tourists around – they were still there but not in huge numbers, which was nice. I guess because it was slightly more inaccessible than other places (unless you had your own transportation).
Reaching Kaka Point, I parked the car up and walked ten minutes along a path winding around the cliffs to a lighthouse, which overlooked the "Nuggets". These are rocks just off the coast, which, when you see the pics you'll probably agree are aptly named.
Continuing down the coast (again stopping for more photo opportunities!)...
...I reached my turnaround point, Waipapa Point, which I was looking forward to as it promised the best chance along the way to encounter sealions on the beach. You're warned not to go too close to them, but a few metres away is fine so as not to disturb them, but still get some great photos. I reached the beach and wasn't disappointed! A couple of sealions were waiting for me, along with a another lighthouse to make a nice photo... the perfect end before turning back for the day to cook some dinner, and then pack my bag for my early drive back to the-catlins the following morning, to catch the coach to Te Anau!