Island Living: Part Two

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the large delay in posting this. It’s been a pretty crazy couple weeks for me. Right now I’m actually on mid-semester break, traveling in the North Island with my flatmate Sarah. I’ll write about that in the next couple days, I promise! First, my second day in Stewart Island.

Regina, Walker, Sarah, and I ended our first day on Stewart Island by stumbling into bed and passing out. We woke up very early the next morning and walked out to the ferry landing as dawn broke over the bay.

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The ferry ride back to the mainland was cold and choppy, but as the boat skipped across the waves we got to see the sky turn golden behind the clouds with the rising of the sun.

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After reaching the mainland, we all got back in the car and started driving back to Dunedin. Along the way, however, we made two major stops in Invercargill and Slope Point.

Although we had spent the night in Invercargill on the way down, it was full dark by the time we arrived and we had to go straight to sleep so we missed out on enjoying the town. Our hostel manager highly recommended that we walk through Queens Park, so we decided to come back and visit it on our return trip. Queens Park’s 200 acres include multiple gardens and botanical attractions, playgrounds, an aviary, a small animal reserve, and the Art Museum. We took a rambling walk through the park, visiting the rose gardens, aviary, and animal reserve. It was a beautiful walk, and I really enjoyed seeing all the flowers, birds, and animals (including a wallaby)!

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After spending a couple hours in the park, we hit the road again and headed to Slope Point. Slope Point is the true southernmost point of the South Island, as compared to the more easily-accessible and touristy Nugget Point which is sometimes marketed as the southernmost point on the Island. Slope Point was only accessible by small gravel roads winding through farms and cow pastures, which offered sporadic views of the beautiful nearby valleys and lakes.

It took us a while to get there but it was completely worth it. From the parking lot it was an easy 20-minute hike through a cow and sheep pasture to the cliffs, and once we got there the view was absolutely stunning. A tall rusted barrel and a single sign on the cliff were the only sign that this place was a point of interest. Sheer rocky cliffs dropped straight into cloudy blue waters, which pounded against the rocks in huge waves. The only things around were farm animals and a few houses in the distance, and it was silent and calm except for the sounds of the water.

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After walking back to the car, we set off again for Dunedin. We decided to take the scenic route through the beautiful Catlin mountains on the way back, and it was completely worth it. Gently rolling hills of farmland and fields slowly turned to jagged foothills covered in a patchwork of forest and pasture. Farms, small towns, and gleaming rivers dotted our route, interspersed with long stretches where we saw no sign of human habitation. As the hours passed, the sun slowly came out from behind the clouds, picking out the hills and valleys in washes of gold.

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By the time we got back to town on Sunday evening, we were all hungry and tired and ready to be back home. I am so happy that we took the opportunity to visit Stewart Island and all the amazing farmland, views, and stops along the way.  The trip was so fun, full of laughter and excitement and gorgeous views, and really helped the four of us get closer together. It was a great opportunity and will count among my favorite memories in New Zealand.

Until next time,

Rachael

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