After hanging out with the penguins, we left the Otago Peninsula to wrap along the South of the island. We made a straight path from Dunedin to Invercargill because we didn't have anywhere to stay that night, so we wanted to get in early enough to get something booked.
It was in Invercargill that we were introduced for the first time to New Zealand's wonderfully organized i-Site. When we drove into Invercargill there were clear road signs pointing the way to the i-Site. The information spot for the town was in a museum lobby and had a desk staffed by helpful people and a TON of information about the town, region, and beyond. We walked in, told them we needed a room, our expectations and budget, and she presented a few brochures. We picked one that sounded good, she called them up, booked it, we paid her and she gave us receipt. Ten minutes later, we were checking into our perfectly lovely room. Could not have been easier! We used i-Sites several times over the rest of the trip for advice, maps, and rooms. All for free.
Anyway, back to Invercargill. Another reason to head there as opposed to another Southland spot, was the Invercargill Brewery, a lovely place where we failed miserably at photo taking. I will now give this blog over to Kyle so he can tell you all about it...
Uhh, let's see, I can't say a lot about the actual size of the brewery and all that, because there was no tour, we just walked in, and right at the front of the brewery is a tasting room, with taps for all of the beers brewed on site- about 10 I think. Chris greeted us and provided a sampling of each (okay just me, with tiny sips for Alli) and pleasant conversation. A couple of ciders, a boysenberry flavored beer, a honey pilsner, a pale ale. Then their b. man, with some good NZ hoppy aroma (NZ-grown hops are unique, said to be more citrus-y than our fantastic cascade hops from the states) - good clean beer. a pitch black, a smokin' bishop- with an amazing amount of smokey, bacon-y flavor and aroma, quite a unique beer. And finally, a seasonal they call Sister Gina, after head brewer- which is a sort of Belgian Abbey ale. That's the only one I bought for the purpose of drinking on the trip - yum- but I grabbed one each of the rest excluding cider for carrying back to SG. They also had some partnerships with other breweries and sold some of their product. I picked up a 8 Wired HopWired IPA. Cracked that last night and shared with friends. If you see this, buy it. Fantastic fantastic beer. Also picked up a Mata Taniwha, made to taste like the cookings of a hangi pit (post to come soon). Had this last night as well, crazy combo of smokey and sour and sweet potato. I would like to try a few more of these.
But really, Alli, do most people care that much about beer? I think they want to see more pictures. Anyway, it was a nice little place with a very welcoming "come try our beer, no charge" attitude, and a great line of beers, that I wish I could pick up more easily.
back to Alli:
After enjoying the brewery, we drove out of town for a while along the Southern Scenic Route, a well-marked road through the Southland toward the Catlins forests.
We didn't get as far as the forests, but drove as far as Waipapa Point, which is almost the most Southern spot on New Zealand's South Island (though Stewart Island is below there, so it's not the most Southern spot in New Zealand). The point was the site of a horrible shipwreck in April 1881: 131 of 151 passengers and crew drowned when the SS Tararua got stuck on a reef in a storm on its way from Dunedin to Melbourne and sank over the course of the next 24 hours before help could arrive.
Two and a half years later a lighthouse was erected. Until the 1970's a lighthouse keeper and his family lived there, but now the light is operated remotely, so the point was completely empty. And beautiful. (See the theme here?)
We wandered all over the dunes and beach watching the crashing waves and the sea. It was not hard to imagine a ship breaking up on the rocks.
Kyle is apparently an expert sea lion spotter, so while standing on the rocks looking down the beach, he saw one lump that looked less rock-like and more sea lion-like.
He was right. Our first approach was met with quite a lot of snorting and noises that were a bit scary. And we were not trusting our ability to get out of his way quickly on the soft sand. So we walked up into the dunes and checked him out from above (hence the grass in the foreground).
He seemed happier with us up there. He was huge and smelled like livestock and was plagued by sandflies. Definitely not a cute little seal like the night before. But fun to watch.
After we felt like we might have worn out our welcome, we walked back to the point and drove back to Invercargill for the night. The next morning, we would venture into Fiordland.