Headed south taking the scenic coast road (27 January). A good camping area at Taranui but ‘brimming’ with the usual ‘sleeping’ cars and vans. Ate lunch overlooking the sea at the picnic area then moved on. Then we encountered a “road closed” sign so we had to detour back to the main highway. Passed through Herbert and the Moeraki Boulders area…didn’t stop as we have been here twice before.
Drove into Moeraki itself, very narrow roads for our wide vehicle and no-where to park. Headed to the lighthouse at Katiki Point where there is a seal and yellow-eyed penguin colony. Went for a walk to a ‘hide’ overlooking the shore and got a nice surprise to see two penguins on the beach.
Walked back up the hill and along a path to another viewing area and found three ‘chicks’ resting right next to the fence almost within touching distance. They weren’t bothered by us at all.
There were lots of seals on the rocks and especially cute were the babies playing and frolicking together.
Then another adult penguin came out of the water and posed for us on the beach. All very cool, seeing as other times at ‘paid’ viewing areas we haven’t seen any or they have been too far away to see properly. The photos we got are pretty special for sure.
This of course put us quite late in the afternoon so we headed back to the main highway and spent the night in a Rest Area on SH1 right next to the ocean. Noisy traffic through the night but it doesn’t bother us and we sleep through it.
Next day the first point of interest was Shag Point. Drove to the end of the road into a DOC reserve. The coastline was quite interesting with different coloured rocks and is the site of another large seal colony.
Passed through Palmerston and then to Waikouaiti. Would be nice here on a good day instead of overcast and raining. A nice inlet lake and beach.
Ended up at Karatane and found a nice spot overlooking the Waikouaiti River inlet to have a lunchbreak. Checked out the Dunedin Council website for their Freedom Camping policy and found we could stay there if self-contained so settled for the rest of the day.
Next morning we went for a walk around the peninsular where an historic Pa was sited – the local Iwi have put up interesting signboards telling the story of the area. We even met some of the descendent locals ‘armed’ with fierce looking pruners and weedeaters, keeping the tracks trimmed and tidy.
Set off again further down the scenic coast road to Warrington where there is a freedom camp area but as it is ‘unrestricted‘ we figured by nightfall it would be packed out so we moved on.
Turned off the main highway again at Waitati and lunched at Doctors Point. No camping signs up, so headed along some back roads to Long Beach. A good spot, large playing fields and metalled carpark areas. Huge cliffs behind the beach and a large expanse of beach as the name suggests. We spent a nice quiet night here…again, compliant with the Council Bylaw.
Set off again next morning and took a nearby side road to Purakaunui Inlet. Narrow road – luckily there was a boatramp at the end and a turnaround area.
Stopped at an organic veggie stall on the way out to buy eggs and some greens…a popular spot as 3 other cars also pulled in while we were there.
Headed south towards Port Chalmers then turned northwards along the coast to Aramoana. Going to stop overnight there along “The Mole” breakwater. Found a spot among the day trippers and went for a walk along the breakwater towards the Port entrance.
Taiaroa Lighthouse is across the water and we could see little white dots on the hillside that were actually nesting Albatross. Too far away to get a sharp photograph of them though.
People ‘watched’ for the rest of the afternoon – groups heading along the breakwater to try their luck at fishing, dog walking and going to look at the seals on the rocks at the end. Also various vehicles jostling for positions for the night.
Next morning we decided to stay another night. Went for a walk around the area after breakfast. Aramoana was of course the scene of NZ’s deadliest criminal shooting when 13 people were killed on 13 November 1990 by a local resident who went on a shooting spree. It seems unbelievable as you walk around the quiet streets that this could have happened.
Later in the afternoon we went for a long walk along the beach. At one spot people were climbing up a steep sand drift and sliding down again on boogie boards – looked like good fun.
A freighter container ship left the harbour during the afternoon and another waiting off shore, came in to replace it. Then in the evening a large cruise ship sailed past too. A busy place!
We woke early next morning just in time to see the next cruise ship entering the harbour – the city will be busy again today!
Packed up after breakfast and headed back to Port Chalmers along the narrow road that follows the water most of the way to Dunedin. You would be ‘in the drink’ so quickly if you had a momentary ‘doze’.
So we arrived in Dunedin and concluded our ‘meanderings’ for January.