Invercargill - Southern Scenic Route
Trip Start Nov 30, 2006
22Trip End Jan 15, 2007
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I was feeling a little lost as to what to see and do in Invercargill so I decided to drive further along the southern scenic route and check out an area called the Caitlins forest where the petrified forest is located. I drove along the southern scenic route for about forty five minutes until I saw the turn off for the coastal road to the caitlins. I could see the southern coast from the highway, the sky was blue, and it looked really beautiful. The pavement ended after about six kilometers and turned into a dirt road. I did not stop until I reached the turn off for the petrified forest and curio bay. Curio bay is rather hidden and you can't see the petrified forest until you get out of your car and walk down the steps to the bay. You really have to walk down to the bay to actually see the petrified forest, otherwise all you will see is a scenic bay with rocks. Once you start walking around you can really see the preserved fallen trees in the bay that have risen and fallen over the years. I actually reached down and touched the wood trees which is pretty amazing considering the fact that these forest are from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. I was walking along the bay for a while when I saw my first penguin make its appearance. Left aligned photo tag:
I left Curio bay and returned to Invercargill, spent the night at the campground, and decided I would continue my tour along the southern scenic route. I could have explored more of the Caitlins but since I had never traveled through this area, I decided to split my exploring into two days. The following morning, I headed back through the Caitlins stopping by one of the areas to see if I would spot any sea lions. I did see two sea lions resting by the lighthouse, but they really looked like they wanted to be left alone so headed back on the southern scenic route. My first stop was at the McLean Falls which was about a twenty minute drive and twenty minute hike to reach but definitely worth it. The McLean Falls prove that a walk doesn't have to be days or hours long in order to be beautiful. My next stop was the Cathedral Caves which was right around the corner from the McLean Falls. The view of this stretch of beach was drop dead gorgeous. The Cathedral Caves are best visited at low tide which is from 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM. I had just squeezed into the cathedral caves at the end of the low tide which was good but I did feel a little rushed trying to get there. I returned to the southern scenic route and continued my drive. This section of the country has so many points of interest, you really need two days to enjoy all that is to be seen. I really liked the fact that this portion of the southern scenic route had so many side roads that took you straight to the beach because it's where you will really get see more wildlife and unspoiled beaches.
I spent the night up in Dunedin (campsite) and visited the Otago Museum, one of the best free museums in the country of New Zealand in my opinion. The exhibits on Moa birds, the Antarctic, and dinosaurs are top notch and really give a sense of what this region of the country looked like in prehistoric and before the Europeans arrived (I'd highly recommend a visit here). I drove north to the Moriaki boulders (sp.?) before heading back into queenstown to drop off my car and fly north to Auckland in preparation for return home.