New Zealand Diary 20 July 2002

Maria was kind enough to lend me the use of her car today. So while she went to a conference, I took a scenic drive around the area. I drove south, to Bluff, a port town mainly used as a stopover to get the ferry to Stewart Island.

My first stop was at the hill that overlooks the town. An amazing panoramic view across the whole area unfolded before me as the wind tried its very best to rip me away from the hilltop. I'd seen a couple of people walking up the hill track on my way up to the lookout. It's a brave thing to do as the track is very steep and not for the faint-hearted. I obviously fell into that category, as I took the easy option of driving up! One of the guys walking up was decked out in all the latest Day-Glo tramping apparel, the other, a more mature gentleman, was walking up in his tweed suit. I passed the two of them on my way down the hill, still plodding steadily upwards. The old guy, a good example of why it's illegal to marry your sister in most developed countries, took exception to me driving past and shouted, and waved his arms about so much that I though that one of them at least was bound to detach itself from his torso. This all happened much to the amusement of the other guy who was walking up the hill. I think that it probably made his day. Not much else seems to go on around here.

I drove on, a little bemused, but determined not to let it scare me too much. There's only so shallow a gene pool can get before it starts getting dangerous! My next stop was the end of New Zealand. State highway 1 ends at Bluff. There's typically a sign that tells you so and also, usefully lets you know exactly how far you are away from major cities all over the world. For information, the signpost is at 46.36min 54 seconds south and 168.21 min 26 sec east. It's 1401 km from Capre Reinga at the top of the north island, 2000 km from Sydney, 18912 km from London and 5153 km from the equator. There are a couple of lovely little walks around the peninsula taking in the sea views, native forest and a couple of old gun installations. I managed to leave the town without any other major incidents.

I visited the information centre and Southland museum when I arrived back in Invercargill. It's also home to some Tuatara lizards that they are looking after. The Tuatara dates back 220 million years to the dinosaurs and even has a rudimentary third eye in the middle of its forehead. The ones that I saw weren't doing a huge amount. They were mainly standing around doing very good impressions of rather badly designed plastic lizard toys!

To tomorrow

Created by Dan Leigh 21/07/02