Bluff - The Southern Tip of New Zealand
We all had a great night sleep at our Waikava Harbour Camp site. Honestly our days seem to be really filled with so many things, and when you include a few hours of driving every single day, the days end up going by really quickly! Our little traveling companions must have still felt quite tired and jet lagged. On our way from Waikava to Bluff they both fell asleep, and I am totally one of those crazy moms who takes pictures of her kids when they are sleeping. This one was way too sweet to pass up.
As we drove further south to the southern most point of the South Island (not including Stewart Island), the weather got progressively worse. It was cloudy, and windy, and brrrr very cold. We considered making it to Stewart Island when we were originally planning our trip, but once we read about how difficult it is, we changed our mind. You can either take a ferry, which can be quite a choppy ride apparently, or you can go on one of those tiny planes if the weather is clear. We decided we didn't have enough time and the weather down there can be unpredictable and crazy.
Our first stop in Bluff was the famous sign post which tells the visitors how far they are from a variety of major cities, and of course the South Pole. We were 4810 km from the the South Pole and 5133 km from the Equator. We were actually further from the South Pole than I had thought we would be, although my assumptions had no scientific backing! :) We ate lunch in the motorhome with the sign post as our view and then we headed to Bluff Hill, in hopes of catching a decent view. Of course the wind and rain picked up as we got out of Wendekreisen, but since we are stubborn and we were already there we walked to the top of the hill anyways. It is a short walk and along the way we learned a lot about the wild life in New Zealand, thanks to all the information panels.
One of the more interesting things we learned was that there used to be so many flightless birds in New Zealand, not just the famed kiwi. Since there were no predators on the island, they had no reason to fly. Then once people started coming over from Europe and elsewhere they brought different animals with them. Many of these animals such as dogs, cats, and even possums became the biggest predators of these birds and caused the extinction of many species.
We left Bluff after visiting the Hill as there are really not too many things to do there. This was the beginning of our West Coast Journey as we started to slowly head out of Southland. We had also read that the town of Riverton is a beautiful place to visit, and since it was on our way after driving for about 40 minutes, we got out to check out the town. The town is mostly famous for its fishing culture. We spent a bit of time by the bay, saw the fishing boats, and the kids had fun throwing rocks in the water and collecting shells on the beach. Again, super clean, clear water! The town itself wasn't much to boast about, there were a few nice historic buildings, but we barely saw any humans walking around, a recurring theme in the South Island.
The kids also had fun playing with a cool train that was installed by the bay. Apparently it was just installed yesterday morning, according to one of the very few people we saw walking by.
When we were visiting the sign post at Bluff, a guy popped out of his van and asked us if we wanted to take a family photo. After taking the photo, he started chatting with us and telling us about how he moved to the South Island 5 years ago from England. He also told us about a few cool places to go to and suggested we change our camp site for the night to Monkey Island. He said when the tide is low you can walk to the island and the kids could play on the beach. We happily took his suggestion and headed towards Monkey Island after visiting Riverton.
It was another gorgeous free camp site. We noticed a long stretch of motorhomes parked along the path parallel to the beach. It seemed awfully crowded! I got out and walked over through an opening at the end of the path to see if there was more room and found a spot free of any motorhomes with a good view of the beach. We parked Wendekreisen and headed to the beach to play and explore.
Thankfully the tide was low and we were able to walk to Monkey Island and go to the top. The view from the top wasn't anything spectacular, but it was fun to climb up there. Apparently in the 1800s there used to be a few buildings on Monkey Island, and since there was no road connecting the Island to the main land boats were used to deliver goods. Some say that a monkey was used to pull these boats to shore, which is where the name Monkey Island comes from.
Kian had a blast with the sand on the beach. It was perfect for drawing on and he made sure he took full advantage of it. Here are some of the things he drew: a turtle, a jelly fish, an elephant, an airplane, and a rabbit holding a carrot.
It was really windy on the beach, but the kids were having a blast, so we stayed for a lot longer than expected before heading back to Wendekreisen to cook dinner.
On our way back, Kian and daddy had a fun sword fight with some tree branches they found on the beach. I think daddy was at a disadvantage since he wasn't only defending himself but he was also trying to take a good picture or two!
Back at the motorhome, we cooked and ate dinner and then opened up the Morton Movie Theater where we watched Elf. :)
We have gotten quite good at insulating Wendekreisen at nights. Originally we were rookies and would go to sleep without barricading the doors and windows. Now we know better. It actually can get really cold at nights, so insulating is really important. On nights when we are not staying at a holiday park, we barricade the doors and windows to the best of our ability with what we have on hand, then turn on our gas heater for about 10 minutes to heat up the inside. Once it's nice and toasty, we all hop under our blankets and we are fine until morning. Then first thing in the morning, we turn on the gas heater for 5-10 minutes again, just before breakfast. :) See, we are really getting the hang of it!
Elmer the Elf Update
This morning we woke up to find Elmer peeking through one of the curtains. We put on some Elmo Saves Christmas songs and Kian made sure to stay near Elmer so he could hear the song and be happy. :) Looks like Elmer was enjoying the festivities!