The day after our ferry trip back from Stewart Island, we decided to spend the day driving east from Invercargill along the southeast coast of the south island of New Zealand. Our final destination would be Nugget Point and then we would take the highway back to Invercargill. The next day we would take the scenic drive west towards the Fjordlands.
The drive took us through many pastures filled with sheep and many varieties of cows. We even saw highland cows (the ones with the big horns and long hair). It is quite hilly so the road was curvy and with lots of ups and downs. But, this gives you a chance to also have some scenic looks over the coastline, and stops for waterfalls along the way.
Our first stop was Curio Bay. This is not only a scenic rocky beach, but also home to a unique geological sight. The ocean has eroded away the rock on the beach to reveal a petrified forest. You can clearly see the trees laying down along the ground. Up close, you can see the grains of wood and stumps to trees as well.
Curio Bay is also frequently visited by nesting penguins. There was one penguin hiding behind the stairs leading to the beach. We took some pictures of him (her?). But, that was the only one we saw there.
We continued driving along the coast and stopping at various views along the way. We stopped at two waterfalls mentioned in our guidebooks. One called McLean Falls, and another I can’t remember. Both were short walks through fern and moss covered rain-forest.
Finally, we arrived at Nugget Point which is out on a long peninsula. There is a lighthouse on the end, but the real treat is the beautiful rocks out beyond the point which are how it got its name. Very beautiful place! The other treat is the chance to see fur seals and sea lions which drape over many of the rocks below the cliffs. Hard to see without a good pair of binoculars or telephoto lens (both of which we brought with us). You can also walk down to one beach and sometimes see penguins. But, it turns out they usually don’t show up during the mid-afternoon (closer to sunset).
We started our drive back on the highway which took us through the town of Gore on the way to Invercargill. Many, many farms and pastures filled with sheep and cows along the way. Karen played games on her phone as I drove. I made a joke to Karen when we went to a town called Clinton about whether or not Bill had been there. But, I missed the better sense of humor Kiwis have. As we were leaving Clinton, the next town was Gore, and a sign said – “Clinton – Gore Highway” with a banner over it saying: “Presidential Highway“. Haha!
Here is a slideshow of photos from our trip. Make sure to check out the petrified forest, penguin, beautiful views of the coast, and especially the pictures of Nugget Point and the sea lions.