The fire banked for the night, burned steadily and in the morning had consumed the rounds. I sat writing watching the day unfold, wisps of smoke mixing with the fog drifting through the cables on the bridge. A fellow walked over to say hello. An Australian climber, he told me about the deepest lake in NZ 30k away, how much snow and how cold it gets there in winter. He has been here these last 18 months traveling around climbing the mountains. There are so many people on the road here, from so many places.
This journey has turned the corner toward home for me now. Funny how something can trigger so many process's. I felt a sense of completion yesterday. Today as I stood on the rocks in Bluff and a wave washed over my feet, I knew it was over. I head north now, no more south.
Well almost, one more point of pilgrimage, Slope Point. The windblown trees and the eroding cliff gave me a sense of the extremity of the place. I don't know what I expected but seeing someone's home set back from the enormous cliff looking south to Antarctica, sheep studding the landscape, I laughed to myself at how they make it work here, whatever the challenge. The access closed during lambing time. Just another coastline with a farm at the end of the road. The beauty of the place is difficult to describe. Steep rounded hillsides surrounding deep valleys, obviously laboriously cleared at one time covered in pasture stretching away from the sea endlessly inland.
In Bluff I finally allowed myself to check out a second hand store. I have so little will power, a weakness for certain collectibles and a limit on how much stuff I want to fly home. He had no bells."...they go as fast as I get them" he told me. Stoneware Ginger Beer bottles? "Had one last week and sold it dear, the internet is where to look... Try Dunedin and Christchurch"
I followed the Southern Scenic Route along the bottom stopping in Curio Bay; petrified logs and stumps and an amazing surge channel full of giant kelp, to Niagara Falls of New Zealand. Past Cathedral Caves (only accessible at low tide, $5 for parking) numerous waterfalls, gorges and beaches. Blowholes, penguin colonies and petrol stations not open on Sunday or after 6.
Ahuriri Flat, Balclutha, Caberfeidh, and Cannibal Bay, names on signs and the map as I drive relentlessly towards Dunedin.
I stayed that night with Stephen's sister Hilary and husband Bernie. Their house overlooks the harbour and downtown. It felt like being in a hotel. We talked into the night about families and history, vacations and travel. In the morning we spoke about siblings and home and having lunch at Fleurs in Moeraki.
I drove along the water out the Otago penninsula to the Albatross colony. Another spectacular drive metres from the water, through tiny fishing hamlets with very little room for picture taking. I enjoyed seeing a stuffed Albatross and decided not to take the tour. Instead, driving over Highcliff road for more spectacular views, vistas, winding roads, beaches and general amazing scenery. It is difficult for me to describe what it is like to be driving along a very narrow winding road that drops away dramatically in pasture (or at least, grassy hillside) on either one side and sometimes the other, traversed by numerous sheep and ending at an exquisite looking beach seemingly miles below.
I stopped at an auctioneers storefront , found the library and ate Turkish for lunch. Said hello to a fellow traveller I had met twice before (from Barcellona) then went looking for a laundromat. While it was washing I visited 4 or 5 second hand stores, no bells worth buying and no ginger beer bottles.
Had a wonderful dinner and spent the night with William and Mommi up in Mornington. They are searching for a community to call home. I shared what I knew and told a story or two of my travels. More conversation about education and the power of positive intention. I drove on through the fog over railway tracks, past black swans, a blue house with sheep, and a special little second hand shop. I took away a couple of belt buckles, a bell and a lemon for $20.
I had planned on lunch at Fleurs in Moeraki Bay. She wasn't there! But what a place. Had a great chat with Wayne selling coffee and cookies and told him about MKP. I walked around the site, met the sick seal shuffling round the place looking for assistance and had a brief chinwag with a local. The oneway street is a nice touch, population 47.