New Zealand – Southland (Milford Sound, Invercargill, The Catlins)

After making our way down Haast Pass to Wanaka, we entered the Southland region as we drove into Te Anau and up towards Milford Sound. We lucked out with perfect weather to appreciate Milford Sound, which astounded us with its beauty. Go Orange Cruises was offering an early morning special (2 hour cruise including breakfast for only $45) which was a great way to check out gorgeous Milford Sound from the water. The drive out from Milford Sound to Te Anau was stunning, and we pulled over frequently to soak up the amazing views. Back in Te Anau, we stopped by the bird sanctuary to meet the incredibly rare Takahe bird before making our way over to Riverton where we paid a visit to the Te Hikoi Southern Journey museum to learn about NZ’s early settlers. Then it was onward to Invercargill, Southland’s biggest city. After getting our fill of gardens and museums, we took a detour to Bluff to sample a couple dozen oysters (yum). From Invercargill, we drove to Gore where we sampled Hokonui whiskey and checked out the Eastern Southland Gallery (don’t miss the incredible John Money Collection, quite possibly the best display of West African artwork we’ve ever seen). Gore welcomed us with open arms with a plethora of excellent campsites, and we stumbled upon the best one yet (Gore Town and Country Club, a bargain $10 for 2 adults for a powered camp site with hot water showers). The next day, we backtracked to Invercargill to check out the Munro Special, the “World’s Fastest Indian” at the E Hayes and Sons hardware store of all places! Even if you aren’t into bikes, check out this amazing store but watch the 2005 Anthony Hopkins “The World’s Fastest Indian” movie beforehand to fully appreciate NZ’s most famous motorcycle racer. From Invercargill, we drove to Fortrose before embarking on the Southern Scenic Route (Waipapa Point’s lighthouse, Curio Bay, McLean Waterfall, Matai Falls, Purakaunui Falls, Jack’s Blowhole, Nugget Point’s lighthouse, and Kaka Point). It certainly has been a couple of busy weeks as we explored the Southland region of New Zealand! Next up we’ll be hitting Otago…

Black oystercatchers shelter from the wind; Milford Sound Go Orange offers an early morning Milford Sound special ($45 for a 2 hour cruise including breakfast) A beautiful day for cruising Milford Sound Scenery as we cruise Milford Sound Robby admiring the amazing views A sightseeing plane high above Milford Sound Stirling Falls, a whopping 3x the height of Niagara Falls and the one that Hugh Jackman jumped off in the movie "Wolverine"; Milford Sound A cruise ship is dwarfed by Stirling Falls Phenomenal panoramas to be seen while cruising Milford Sound Lady Elizabeth Bowen Falls; Milford Sound's highest at 162 meters tall View of Milford Sound from behind the visitor's center Gorgeous scenery on the drive from Milford Sound to Te Anau A cheeky kea (alpine parrot) begging for food Spectacular drive out from Milford Sound (we found the drive to be almost as good as the cruise!) Amazing vista on our drive out from Milford Sound Stopping for a viewpoint at Pop's View; State Highway 94 This big blue flightless bird, takahe, was brought back from near extinction. Today, takahe can be seen at the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary A takahe statue in the center of Te Anau Early morning frost on our drive from Te Anau to Manapouri Old cars checking us out in Manapouri Becky checking out Clifden limestone caves Clifton suspension bridge spanning the Avon Gorge for almost 150 years Hay bales in a row The memorial library at Tuatapere Robby next to the Tuatapere "Sausage Capital of New Zealand" billboard View of Te Wae Wae Bay as seen from McCracken's Rest, a lookout area on the Southern Scenic Route Boy riding his motorcycle near Monkey Island Panorama from Monkey Island Cosy Nook Harbor Windswept Macrocarpa trees Young boy sits beneath the statue of a surfer; Colac Bay Artistic bus stop; Colac Bay Low tide; Riverton Yield to school kids/surfers; Riverton Hardy boys about to surf in the middle of winter; Riverton Becky standing in a massive paua shell; Riverton Preparing dinner in our cosy campervan at a freedom campsite in Thornbury Waking up to a frosty morning and brilliant sunrise; Thornbury Paua shells for sale, Te Hikoi Southern Journey museum in Riverton Whale Tooth Scrimshaw; Te Hikoi Southern Journey museum Detailed carving on a pipe; Te Hikoi museum Anderson Park, Invercargill Anderson Park marae Invercargill Water Tower Burt Munro - a fascinating character and Invercargill hometown hero Statue of the legendary Burt Munro Wallabies at Queens Park; Invercargill Rainbow lorikeets at Queens Park; Invercargill Robby kisses the tuatara statue outside Southland Museum; Invercargill Tuatara are rare, medium-sized reptiles found only in New Zealand. This tuatara calls Southland Museum its home Oyster shell display at Bluff Maritime Museum Mural of the "England's Glory", wrecked near the entrance to Bluff in 1881 Overlooking Bluff's Ocean Beach while enjoying our oyster feast Robby smiles after preparing our shelled oysters from Bluff Winton Golf Course where we met fellow campers from China (Mr XK Sun and his wife) Black and white photo from Gore's interesting history of illicit whiskey making; Hokonui Moonshine Museum Making moonshine; Hokonui museum Hokonui moonshine label The excellent Eastern Southland Gallery, not to be missed if visiting Gore A small sample of the best display of west Africa artifacts we've ever seen; Eastern Southland Gallery Robby next to Gore's famous trout statue South African War Memorial; Invercargill Victoria Railway Hotel; Invercargill "Munro Special", a 1920 600cc Indian Scout; E. Hayes & Sons hardware store, Invercargill Robby striking a pose inside the 'World's Fastest Indian'; E. Hayes & Sons Visiting the E. Hayes & Sons hardware store in Invercargill is a must for motorcycle and car enthusiasts Offerings to the God of Speed - Burt Munro display at the E. Hayes & Sons hardware store. Watch the movie "The World's Fastest Indian" starring Anthony Hopkins to learn more! Burt Munro Key display; Southland Museum Albatross at the Southland Museum Sea life section of Southland Museum Scrimshaw made from sperm whale teeth; Southland Museum The Great War (WWI) memorial for Southland soldiers; Invercargill E. Hayes & Sons at the Hammer hardware store; Invercargill Handsome buildings in downtown Invercargill Invercargill's town hall and theater Lookout point near Fortrose Curious sheep at Waipapa Point Lighthouse Waipapa Point Lighthouse NZ fur seals about to battle it out; Waipapa Point Lighthouse Curio Bay lookout Fossilized remains of an ancient forest; Curio Bay 180 million year old petrified forest; Curio Bay Milk jug mailbox Robby by the McLean Falls in Catlins Forest Park Sunset at Catlins Forest Park Papatowai coastal view The Lost Gypsy recycled materials curio shop; Papatowai Whale mailbox; Lost Gypsy Matai Falls Striking a pose at Purakaunui Falls, the most photographed waterfall in NZ; Catlins Forest Park Robby hiding at Catlins Forest Park Playful husky at Purakaunui Bay Purakaunui Bay Gorgeous scenery on our hike to Jack’s Blowhole Easy hike to Jack's blowhole; Catlins coastal area Travellers Autobarn unite! We loved our campervan and were thrilled to run into other like minded campers Roaring Bay, home to the elusive yellow eyed penguin Nugget Point Lighthouse Sunrise on the Southern Scenic route Nugget Point sunrise Penguins for the next 5 km...yay! The Point Cafe; Kaka Point Tunnel Hill; Catlins foto gallery lightboxby v6.1

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