JANUARY 19, 2009 - (11/121) - QUEENSTOWN TO DUNEDIN
We leave Queenstown just before 9:00 and stop by Arrowtown to see its Chinatown, where the Chinese miners lived during the gold mining days. We drive through the stunning Kawarau Gorge past the relics of serval gold mines on the way to Cromwell on Hwy 6. As we come out of the Gorge we see the beautiful Lake Dunstan. When it was formed it flooded the original Cromwell and the old highway. The lake water is so incredibly blue and clear, we can see the old river bridge at the bottom of the lake! This is a prime fruit growing area. We replenish our cherry supply and buy some chocolate covered honey comb and dried apricots. The chocolate is different but tastes good and is crunchy.
Crossing the head of the lake on the new bridge we head down Hwy 6 following the river to Alexandra. Leaving Alexandra, we enter another gorge like area following Lake Roxbough and the Clutha River. This area has almost an other worldly look to it, large boulder filled, steeply sloping fields and craggy gorges that feed the lake. As we come to the river the land becomes high rolling hills, that look, for all the world, like a green patch work quilt, covered with sheep of course!
We leave the Clutha River at Raes Junction and continue working our way south to Gore where we have lunch at a local café. Dick has steak and kidney pie and we both have a milk shake, which is just a large glass of milk with a scoop of ice cream and vanilla added, interesting. If they are not growing fruit, they are raising sheep or forage. There are millions of sheep!
After Gore, and getting a bit lost on the back roads, we head for the southern coast. The winds are blowing a gale coming off of the sea and we begin to appreciate the large wind breaks that have been planted all over this area. The trees are some sort of fir and they are planted very close together and grow 50-60 feet high. They make a very dense screen and the screens run for hundreds of yards in a row. Most houses are surrounded by them and the fields are crisis-crossed by them.
At Fort Rose we pick up the Southern Scenic route which actually starts in Te Anau, follows the edge of the Fjordlands National Park down to the ocean, then follows the coast all the way to Dunedin. The road is a mixture of well maintained paved road with a few sections of good gravel road. Our first stop is Slope Point, the southern most tip of the South Island.The Great Southern Ocean is kicking up. It is a beautiful blue with large breakers coming to the shore. Then we are on to Curio Cove where we walk out on a petrified forest from the Jurassic Period. You can see the tree trunks quite clearly. As interesting as the trees were, the waves crashing ashore, coupled with the blue of the water was worth several hundred photos. Maybe we got a good one!
This part of the South Island is called The Catlins. It has a rugged isolated feel to it. Even though we are right on the coast, it is very hilly and a mix of sheep stations and forested land. We see few cars again which is good since part of the road is gravel. We make a stop at Nugget Point with its light house.Our last stop is at Kaka Point. This is a pretty seaside area that would be worth a stay, if you could get a cottage as there are very few services.At this point, we leave the coast and drive up to Dunedin (DUN EDEN). We check into our Bella Vista Motel with another 561km under our belt. The owner sends us to a nice Italian place, Etrusco, in downtown. After a great dinner of wine, wonderful garlic bread and spaghetti, we walk around and enjoy the Victorian feel of Dunedin. It is a pretty city.