South Scenic Route New Zealand

The next morning I awoke around 8:30 am and hopped in the shower while Lisa lay in bed. I needed to wake up early so that I could write some more in my journal about our previous night in New Zealand and I also had to wash a load of laundry before we checked out at 10:00.

By 10:30 we were on the highway out of Dunedin. Lisa and I had decided the night before that we would take the southern scenic route through the south end of the island instead of just driving straight across inland to Manapouri, which was to be our next hotel stop on the trip.

Our first stop of the day took us to Nugget Point which is located just a little past Kaka Point. Nugget Point was a little way off the main scenic route but was definitely worth the detour. Driving to the point took us onto a gravel road for about 16 kilometres, and then we reached a gate at which point the road narrowed and zigzagged up the side of a hill for a few more kilometres. We stopped at the first parking lot that we came to because we thought we had reached the top, but as we were stopped we saw a few cars coming down another part of the hill so we decided to continue going up. The road at this point narrowed even further and we began driving alongside a very steep cliff; any slip off the road at this point and we were finished. Being on the left hand side of the rental car, Lisa had the best view and she was very diligent about reminding me what kind of view it was. As we were driving up the hill we came to a small bay were a sign indicated that all buses must stop here as the road ahead narrowed so much that it was unsafe to go any further. Lisa and I traveled past the bay for about another kilometre up the hill before we came to a final car park located almost at the very top of the hill. Thankfully we didn’t have to pass any cars on this last section of the road as it might have been a little scary for Lisa. I forgot to mention that this was a foggy day and by the time we were near the top of the hill we were driving in the clouds which made for really poor visibility. But once in the parking lot Lisa and I were amazed at the site in view. The parking lot was literally at the edge of a cliff that stood a couple hundred feet above the ocean and went straight down into sharp rocks that were getting pounded by the waves.

Nugget Point

Nugget Point

Off to the side of the parking lot was a trail, so Lisa and I threw on our rain gear and made our way down the path. I was a little worried, as was Lisa, because the path was not enclosed in anyway and any slip off the path, which was no more then 3 or 4 feet across, and our days were numbered. The drop along the path must have been 4 or 5 hundred feet, perhaps even higher, to the rocky shore below. With very little effort and after about a fifteen minute walk we made it to the end of the trail and were rewarded with a great view from the old lighthouse which sat on a part of the cliff that jutted out from the hillside. Even though it was a drizzling day with a ton of fog all around us, the view was amazing. I could only imagine what it would be like on a sunny day; it must be an incredible view.

We stood up on the point for about 20 minutes taking in the scenery and listening to the birds and seals in the water below and the sound of the waves crashing into the gigantic rock formations (the nuggets).

After a short rest and some great scenery Lisa and I made our way back down the path and back to the car. We decided to stop at the other trail that we passed on the way up and see what it had to offer.

The other trail, which thankfully didn’t have any eye popping cliffs to fall off of, was a little more relaxed and led us down to a beach were yellow eyed penguins could be viewed. Well I thought it led us to the beach, but it ended up leading us to a little look out tower that sat 50 to 100 feet away from the beach. It was still a great view and would made for some excellent yellow eyed penguin watching and photographs if there had been any yellow eyed penguins. Unfortunately we weren’t as lucky as the previous day and didn’t see any penguins, but the vegetation around the beach and the beautiful ocean view were still worth the walk.

At this point Lisa and I had been out in the drizzling rain for around 45 minutes and were starting to feel the effects, so we rushed back up the path and back to our car were we could dry off and warm up.

Purakaunui Falls

Purakaunui Falls

Purakaunui Falls, one of the most photographed falls in New Zealand, was our next stop. After taking another small ten minute detour off the southern scenic route we came to the car park which was right near the entrance to the Purakaunui falls walking trail. Lisa and I threw on rain gear once again and headed into what looked like the south island jungle, but is actually referred to as a beech forest, in search of the Purakaunui falls. It didn’t take more then a 10 minute walk down the trail and we were at the falls. What a spectacular view!! Lisa and I stood and took photographs for a few minutes, having the whole place to ourselves for 5 or 10 minutes. Once a few other tourists showed up we made our way back up the trail and back to the car.

Lisa and I had planned to make a few other stops around the area to see some more waterfalls, but Lisa didn’t bring much rain gear and after viewing the falls the rain started falling pretty heavily, so we just decided to carry on and see if the sky would clear up for us along the way.

Clifden Suspension Bridge

Clifden Suspension Bridge

After a few hours of driving and no hope of sunlight, Lisa and I made a meal stop in Invercargill for a few sub sandwiches at the local Subway. We ate our sandwiches inside the restaurant giving us a few minutes break from the driving. I always like checking out the different items on the menus at restaurant chains in different countries to see if there are any items we don’t have back in North America. The Subway menu was pretty much the same as back home in Winnipeg except they had one sub which featured lamb meat. We ended up ordering our favourite turkey breast and ham sub anyhow.

As we continued our way to Manapouri along the southern scenic route, Lisa and I made a few stops along the way at whatever caught our attention. The first was an old suspension bridge just outside the town of Clifden. It was still raining at this point so we just got out of the car for a few minutes and took a couple pictures of the bridge. It looked like a really great resting point where we could have had a picnic and enjoyed the scenery.

Our next stop along the way was a look out point which was located a few short feet from the main highway. I pulled over because I could see a partial view from the car and thought it would be an even greater view from the lookout point. Lisa stayed in the car while I ran in the rain to the lookout point and for a few short minutes took in the breathtaking view. What I saw was beautiful cliffs and the big blue ocean with huge white waves crashing onto the never ending beach. It was spectacular and would have probably been even better on a sunny day but oh well, you can’t win them all!!


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