Saturday Feb 4th | Dunedin 🛬 to Invercargill 💆🏻 to Winton 🐮 | 230 km 🚙
Saturday was a relaxing day. We made our way from Dunedin to Invercargill where we had lunch at The Cabbage Tree. Here I learned two important things about New Zealand: dining out is expensive (but worth it), and lemon is pronounced LEE-MUN. I had a massage at 2pm which felt amazing after the long day of travel. A quick 40 minute drive later and we were at the farm.
The family was out for the evening to see Nitro Circus so in true Canadian fashion we decided to make perogies for Sunday’s supper.
Sunday Feb 5th | Winton 🐄 to Bluff 🐟 and back | 168km 🚙 + 8km🚶🏻♀️
I woke up around 6am which is an hour later than I’d normally get up. Vacation mode engaged. I felt great – zero jet lag! After a quick breakfast we drove down to Bluff which is the most southern town on the South Island and also the oldest settlement. It was established in 1824 by James Spencer and is home of Stirling Point and the iconic yellow sign.
It was a beautiful shorts and tank-top kind of day so we did an 8km walk and ate our $5 bakery sandwiches outside before visiting Bluff Hill to get a good view of Stewart Island. It’s a steep drive up and Val laughed at a cyclist who was struggling to make it. Just as she did that her car realized it didn’t have any more gears to down-shift through and we found ourselves in the same predicament as the poor guy on the bike.
80 million years ago when New Zealand broke away from Gondwana, birds ruled. There were no predators so many birds evolved and became flightless. When humans first settled they brought cats, stoats and rats and the birds were defenceless. In 700 years, New Zealand has lost 32% of its native land birds. The kiwi, the native bird of New Zealand, is the only living relative of the spectacular, flightless moa and can be found in the wild on Stewart Island. We decided we don’t really have time to go to Stewart Island but hope to see kiwi birds at the kiwi sanctuary in Queenstown. Our last stop in Bluff was the Maritime Museum. There was a lot of interesting information and artifacts there including the light from a lighthouse, the jawbone from a whale and an old scuba diving suit. We also found out why a ship is always name after a female and thought you might find it interesting too.
- The tuatara looks like a lizard but isn’t.
- It’s skeleton identifies as the last of the Rhynchocephalian reptiles that date back a quarter billion years
- Tuatara means ‘peaks on the back’ which refers to their spiny crest
- They are considered to be a living taonga (treasure) by Māori
- Tuatara used to be found all over New Zealand but are now extinct on both islands
- 8-12 eggs are laid in September/October and the sex of the offspring is determined by the ground temperature during the first week: >18C = 90% chance of being male but >22C = 90% chance of being a female.
- Tuatara are the slowest growing, longest living reptiles and may live to be 150 years old
After a very educational day we headed back to the farm. I milked my first cow. Well I put the cups on the udder if that counts. During supper, just as Isla was about to serve dessert (another chocolate cake 😍), a massive bird flew right into the kitchen! It flew across the table, over the couch and through the living room where it smashed into the big window before returning along its original path and dive bombing back into the kitchen window. Much commotion later and the wood pigeon was returned to his natural habitat. Needless to say we ended the day with a bottle of delicious, New Zealand wine.