Well boy have I had a VERY interesting week and a bit since my last update, but I'll get onto that a little later.
So the Speights Brewery Tour, well it was very interesting and all together quite impressive looking over all of the old brewing equipment. Speights claim to be one of the only Breweries in the southern hemisphere using the gravity fed brewing system. It basically means that they lug all of the raw material used to make beer up to the seventh floor, put it in and hey presto on the ground floor you get beer. Our guide was a right character which helps, the tour was a little rushed though as I didn't have the chance to read all of the info plaques. The best bit of all though was the free beer at the end; we were taken into the tasting room and let loose on the six beers that they produce. I must now state that for quality control I felt obliged to 'test' all six of the beers numerous times [of note we unfortunately were not given pint glasses, only measly tasting vessels].
After the tour I met up with Steve and we got back onto the road but before we left the city we thought that it would be worthwhile seeing a couple more of Dunedin's must do sights. These included Baldwin St, the worlds steepest at an incline of 1 to 2.36 if I am correct and of course I just had to drive up it. It was soo steep that I had to put the car into low range 4WD and drive up in 2nd gear! After this we just spent the next couple of hours walking around Dunedin's and En Zeds first Botanical gardens. It was the height of the Rhododendron season which made for some rather spectacular walks. There was also a rather impressive Aviary in the centre of the park, the parrots were all out and talking! At this point we were both absolutely starving and as there was a cheap Dominoes Pizza nearby we each bought a pizza sat on the lawns in the dimming afternoon sun enjoying some food and a spot of rugga!
At this point it was getting late in the afternoon and we thought that it'd be about time that we made our way out to the Otago Peninsula for the night. The Peninsula is known for its bird and sea life which we wanted to see before we continued on. We ended up sleeping in the front seats of our car right at the end of a road to a scenic reserve. Awaking early we made our way straight down to Sandfly Bay to see some Sea Lions and boy were we lucky as there were loads of them on the beach lounging in the sun! As they were sleeping you could get up to them pretty close, 10 metre's or so I'd say! There is also a chance to see some penguins and albatross out on the peninsula but we were unlucky on both of those fronts.
The afternoon was spent cruising inland towards Waipouri Falls along a beautiful gravel road right up a beech forested valley. We were heading this way as we wanted to go on the historic Clutha Punt but unfortunately it was close due to repairs. The night was spent in a picnic site again in the back of the car only this time i got the mattress out. It was a great place to sit by the river in the sun with a line in the water hoping to catch something, which of course we didn't whilst reading my book.
The next day, the dreaded next day Steve took over the driving to give me a chance to see some of the scenery. It was brilliant I was enjoying the views across the forests and farmlands of central Otago until, WHABAM we crashed on the PENULTIMATE corner before we made tarmac! It was a sweeping flat right hander, I still remember it clearly in slow motion, as we rounded the corner the back near side hit a deep patch of gravel. The rear end came out, jab of the breaks, a bit of correction we slid to the other side snapped back to the other and rammed into a ditch! We were so close to not crashing but hey I suppose that is the case with a lot of crashes these days. Steve and I were both okay, I was suffering from a bit of whiplash, Steve did not feel any till the next day, but the car was buggered.
To our sheer luck the nicest guy came round the corner literally just after it happened, Dave a local sheep farmer. Fortunate for us he was in his 4X4 ute had a set of tow ropes and was able to pull us out of the ditch. He said that the local copper was a bit of a prat, to put it nicely, and that he did not want the guy coming out and trying to screw us over for speeding or some other misdemeanor! As such he said it would be fine for us to store our car until we figured out what to do with it in his garage, just five minutes down the road. After a cup of super sweet coffee and a long chat about our options he rather kindly gave us a lift into town, showed us around and dropped us off at the local camp site.
Cutting a long story short we were stuck in Lawrence, a small town in central Otago for a couple of days. In the end we decided that we needed to make our way back to Dunedin to buy another car. In the proceeding two days we managed to find a few hopefuls on the internet, sort out a quote from a local wreckers and speak to the local mechanics. Steve and I hitched a lift back into Dunedin with three of New Zealand's craziest girls that we have met so far! On our first day in Dunedin we managed to look at two cars and buy one all in the space of a few hours! Seen as we had a car we thought it would be good to go and view the Otago Museum as we didn't get a chance to last time. After a couple of days in Dunedin we again headed back to Lawrence to try and rid ourselves of the other car as it was a burden to us and the farmer. As it turns out the local wrecker offered us a far better price for the car than we would have been able to get in Dunedin. Eager to get back on the road we went out to Dave's house armed with a crate of beer and a huge thanks said our good buys and continued our journey south.
Driving a little slower and with more due care and attention we made our way towards Balclutha, paralleling the Clutha river before hitting the coast once more and turning south for the Catlins. On the way to the camp site we stopped off at Jacks Blowhole a huge 55m deep, 147m long, and 44m wide open cavern 200m inland from the sea. It was just amazing, when the waves come in they rush along a tunnel inland and shoot out into this cavern (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/104/291726981_909c30efd0.jpg?v=0). Getting dark we made our way to the camp site, set up and fell asleep pretty early as we had a big walk the next day.
Setting off early Steve and I started on a 4 1/2 hour/ 14 km walk through the most amazing temperate rainforest. It was just as I imagined the woodlands of NZ to be like, moss covered trees and boulders, fir plants carpeting the floor, lush river valleys, cable bridges across streams, just beautiful. After returning from a rewarding but knackering walk we made our way to the next camp site for the night stopping off at the Purakanui falls, before setting camp beside the sea. The next day we wanted to make it to Invercargill so another early start this time stopping off for the obligatory photos at Slope Point, NZ mainlands most souther point and likely to be the most southerly point I am ever going to frequent in my lifetime! We also visited the 200 Million yr old fossilised forest and MacLenan Falls before entering Invercargill.
Unfortunately for us all of the guest houses were fully booked which mean that steve and I spent the night in the front seats of our cars out towards Bluff. Not wanting to be caught we rose early had a walk round Bluff before checking into our hostel where I have spent the afternoon relaxing reading my book writing this and walking around the museum.
Boy that was a long one, my fingers and back are starting to ache now so I'm off to cook toad in the Hole.
Adios till next time. Jared