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Sunday, 16 January 2011

Day 264-266: Taking the Scenic Route (not just getting lost)

Taking “the scenic route” hasn't always held positive connotations for me. It's what my Dad used to say on family holidays when we were packed into the car and still no closer to pinpointing the elusive beach we'd set off for 6 hours ago. “We're not lost, we're just taking the scenic route.” Or when he missed the right exit on the M40 because a sister had eaten two tubes of smarties in 30 minutes and been sick on herself at the crucial moment, “not to worry, we'll take the scenic route to Grandad's instead.” Entering the outskirts of Birmingham from Wolverhampton instead of Solihul isn't 'scenic' – it's just longer.

So when New Zealand's 'Southern Scenic Route' sprang out of the side of the road with it's easy-to-follow sign posts and the promise of, well, scenery I guess, I was dubious. But may it never be said that I cannot admit when I am wrong*.

I am writing from a happy mid-point in the route that stretches like a smile across the southern tip of NZ's South Island from Dunedin to Milford Sounds. And so-far, so good. Dunedin (above) is a lovely little town, usually one sixth students by population (but not in the summer, there is a town centre with a beautiful church and plenty of shops. The old train station is a living working homage to Victorian times and, if you're willing to part with some cash (we weren't) you can even watch tiny Blue Penguins waddle up the rugged coast and into their nests each night.

South of Dunedin we stopped for a sunny afternoon at Lake Waihola. Maybe Asia has conditioned us to bath-tub temperature water but there was no chance of a dip here, though Emilio got a bit of a wash-down.

The following day we continued on to Kaka Point, where there was a small summer fête going on; bbq, local cheeses and crafts and pony rides on the beach. About 30 people. The lot. Just past Kaka we were treated to some spectacular views and lots of fur seals and sea lions frolicking below from an old lighthouse at the less-than glamorously named Nugget Point.

I'm not sure if it counts as 'scenic' or just plain mental but one of the highlights for me was 'Tea Pot Land' - just a front garden full of teapots. Every type of teapot you could imagine, it was amazing. And if that wasn't enough we rounded of the day with some cute waterfalls and a beautiful and almost completely deserted beach at Tautuku Bay.

Yeah, I could get into this scenic thing.

*this admission is limited to select cases only. Terms apply


  1. Trish says:

    Now I understand why people rave about New Zealand's scenery - and what crazy colours!!

    Just spent a VERY happy 3 days with Ginni/ Martin (from Auckland), Kate/Paul in the Cotswolds - don't think I've eat, drank or laughed so much over 3 days! Your pics and stories make me even more determined to visit the Woottons/Graimes. xx

  2. yeap remember some of this!!! it's the emptiness that is most striking. Peak Hour in town - Rob driving around the roundabout! Can't wait for the photos of the wildlife and surely you have seen more sheep by now!!! Love the lakes/the rivers and the sea..............the chain's new...

  3. yes there have been plenty of sheep - infact, so many that we've stopped taking photos of those woolley little mites everytime we see them...but fear not, they are still all over the shop.

    and trish yes! a visit to nz is a must...even for those who don't have the good excuse of friends here...