Dunedin + Otago Peninsula + The Catlins (first part of the Southern Scenic Route)

Tuesday 06/03

We wake up quite late (9am) and stay in bed, checking our phone. The weather is bad: quite chilly (15C) and rainy. It’s good to do a small sleep in.

Around 11am, kids start homeschooling. Isabelle tries to find accommodation on Easter Island while I sort out the many pictures of the last few days (mainly the pictures of our activities in Kaikoura).

Around 2pm we go on foot (20’) to eat. Ludivine and I take a salad at Subway and then join the others at McDonald’s. On our way back, we stop at Countdown. We manage to avoid rain during this return walk.

We come back in the camping park at 4pm, for the kids’ second homeschooling session.

The weather gets better around 6pm. Isabelle and I go for a walk on the beach.

I prepare pasta for dinner. After dinner, we watch 2 “chapters” of the DVD that we received from the Johns. It’s nice to relive these moments.

Isabelle and I work till 1:30am. I also got a call from my parents.



Wednesday 07/03

Vlog by Jules: see below


By me:

Wake up at 7am. We want to leave early to enjoy this great day. In line with the forecast, the sky is all blue.

We are at the i-SITE at the opening (8:30am) to get some info about the Otago Peninsula and a map of the Southern Scenic Road. This is indeed the programme of today (due to the bad weather of yesterday we indeed have to squeeze both these highlights into one day).

We start by driving to Darwin Street, the “world’s steepest residential street” (as per the Guinness Book of World Records). We walk to the top. Quite an achievement…

We then go to Otago Peninsula. It is home to the South Island’s most accessible diversity of wildlife: albatross, (yellow-eyed) penguins, fur seals and sea lions.

We first drive to the end of the peninsula, where the Royal Albatross Centre is located. We don’t take the tour. We see one gliding in the sky from one of the observation lookouts.

The peninsula’s coastal and farmland roads offer blissful views. It’s a wonderfully scenic trip, passing lush green pastures, small bays and inlets, sandy beaches, rugged hills and volcanic landforms. Stunning! And the weather is awesome.

We drive to Allan’s Beach, a remote beach but accessible on foot from the car park (5′ only). We see many sea lions on the beach, lazing in the sun, not really disturbed by our presence. What an amazing feeling to see these massive creatures in the wild so close! I love this feeling. And there are only a very few other people on the beach. We also see seals on the rocks. Wow!

We then drive to another beach, in Sandfly Bay. The steep sandy walk from the car park (where we prepare a salad for lunch) to the beach takes 20′. It’s as amazingly beautiful as the previous beach. We see one sea lion on the beach and many seals on the rocks, at the end of the beach. We approach them very closely. We should normally keep a 10m distance but since the zoom of the iPhone camera is so bad, I go much closer… How much do I regret my camera in these moments!

We go back to Dunedin by the Highcliff road, as beautiful as the coastal road (and giving another perspective).

We take the Southern Scenic Road, from Dunedin to Invercargill (610 km). It passes by the Catlins, a region off the beaten tracks. We first stop at Nugget Point, a bit further than Kaka Point. It’s a beautiful viewpoint. The walk (1km) to the lighthouse is nice. We see many seals down the path. From the lighthouse we also see many of them, sometimes quite high on the rocks.

It’s already 5pm. We definitely won’t have time to visit the 6 or 7 stops that I put on my list.

The road is nice and “wild”. It’s an enchanting region, combining productive farmland, native forest, lonely lighthouses, wild empty beaches, bushwalks and wildlife-spotting opportunities. This is all about the journey, rather than the destination.

We also quickly stop at Papatowai, to see the beach.

We arrive in Invercargill a bit after 8:30pm. We’d like to eat a pizza but can’t find a good pizzeria. We go to Burger Fuel. Nice original “gourmet” burgers.

We drive 20′ more to sleep in a free camping site, along the road. We arrive there at 10pm.

We drove nearly 400km today, at an average speed of 50 km/h. This camper consumes more than the other ones that we had; today 15l/100km!

What a great day again!

We are tired. We all sleep by 11pm.

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