A Lazy Day?

Trip Start Jan 15, 2011
1
10
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Trip End Mar 19, 2011


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Where I stayed
Surat Bay Lodge

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We headed south from Dunedin on a wet and gray morning with the intention of idling along the coast. First stop was Nugget Point. It wasn't exactly pleasant outside, but we'd driven all the way there on an unpaved road, so we pushed ourselves to get out into the rain and see what all the fuss was about. We followed was a nice little walk along seaside cliffs to a lighthouse high up on the point. As the wind whipped against our hoods, we gazed down into a ravine below to spy on some fur seals playing in rocky pools. It was like watching children in a bathtub. Very adorable. They were obviously enjoying the weather far more than we were.

When we reached the lighthouse we could see those notorious nuggets below: Jagged vertical sentinels standing proudly against the force of the sea. Yes, the sun was masked by cloud and the rain was wet and chilly, but the site was gorgeous. Worth the effort, without a doubt. Birds and seals alike gloried in the remoteness of the locale; their safe oasis at land’s end.

After determining that the rain wasn’t going to let up, we decided to make a lazy day of it and check into a hostel instead of camp outdoors. We chose Surat Bay Lodge because it was on the ocean. I imagined it would be a nice place to sit, drink a hot cup of tea, and get some writing done.

Katie waited in the car as I rang the bell at the office. No response. I tried a second ring. Nothing. I didn’t want to be a pest, but I finally gave them a third ring. Not a peep. Was anyone around? We’d almost decided to move along when a young man came out barefoot with a spattering of paint upon his clothes. He was busy repainting the kitchen, he said, and he thought his partner was going to answer the door. His name was Jerome and he was from Belgium. His partner/girlfriend was from Ireland. Eventually we found out that the other people staying there were from England and Spain, and then there were some Chinese emigrants who lived on the north island – yes, actual Kiwis! Well…not quite.

The rain had stopped by the time we finished lunch, so I coerced Katie into walking along the beach with me. The area was known for New Zealand sea lions. The males have flat noses unlike normal sea lions, which have more dog-like faces. Sure enough, we saw one of these fellas. A BIG one. We ran across him sleeping alongside two females. Being me, I wanted to get closer (Don’t worry, I didn’t get too close). It felt safe enough until the male sat up and started barking at one of the females. All of a sudden I realized how ridiculously HUGE he was. It’s one thing when these creatures are sleeping soundly on a beach and another when they’re barking and snarling at one another. Katie and I both looked at each other with eyes as big as saucers and slowly backed away.

Down the beach we found gigantic bundles of seaweed, more sea lions, and black scavenger birds with red eyes. They looked like wicked little things as they pecked at anything they could get their beak on. They weren’t too cooperative about my getting a picture, but I was persistent and nabbed one. Take that, you little buggers!

There was a gorgeous arm of land reaching out to sea at the end of the beach. It was calling to me. I expressed a desire to conquer it and Katie concurred. So off the beaten path we went. We pulled ourselves up a sandy hill and through the tall grass, finally ending up on solid ground. The grass was thick and bushy, and some of it was already flattened, possibly by other people who had had similar ideas of blazing their own trail. We followed in their footsteps and used what little pathway we could up onto the hill. Each step felt like we were treading on a plush carpet five feet deep. It was slow going, steep, and just as we started huffing and puffing the sun decided to pop out and shine down upon us. It was lovely, but suddenly far too hot for our liking. Since no one was around, we just pulled off our shirts and trudged up the slope in our sports bras. The cool air blowing in from the sea felt wonderful.

At the first spot where the ground leveled off I sent Katie ahead so I could get some pictures of her at the end of the bluff. Her presence sent the seabirds into an absolute tizzy. Its not often they get guests out there. They fluttered around screeching through the air while she sat, relaxed, waves tossing and turning behind her. Then I joined her and we both marveled at the stunning vista. It was rather majestic. There was even a weathered rock archway to the left of our view. It was something special, knowing that here was a place people rarely sat; there was a view people rarely saw. That breadth of land and sea was ours alone.

So, our lazy day turned out to be anything but. That short walk stretched into several hours of trekking and climbing and animal watching. I guess we’d have to wait another day to take it easy.
__________

UPDATE! Alice and Katie are now embarking on a Round the World trip!
Visit aliceintraveland.com to follow along on their continuing
adventures!

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Comments

mary lou on

Those unplanned days are often the best of all. Thanks for today's photos and journal entry. More happy days ahead! xxoo

Dad on

Thanks for the photos and commentary. The places that you're seeing look as if they haven't been discovered yet. It's quite a contrast to the crowds of California. We wish we were there with you. Love to you both.

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