After being disappointed over the cancellation of our Stewart Island adventure, we drove the scenic route along the south east coast of the South Island. This was a curvy, narrow roadway through rolling hills covered with lots of sheep and cows. Small towns would pop up along the road as we made our way towards Kaka Point. Kaka is a parrot like bird that is native to New Zealand – though not many remain.
We were able to get what may have been the last room available. It is still a busy time of year to be touring the South Island though it is officially know as the "shoulder season" (versus high season and off season).
Kaka Point is a pretty spot right on the water and surrounded by hilly countryside. We enjoyed a nice bush walk and then went up to Roaring Bay to seek out the elusive "Yellow-eyed penguins." April is the month the penguins moult so they don't go out to sea for feeding as often and avoid feeding in stormy weather. The weather was cold and very windy – so standing outdoors an hour before sunset to look for the critters was challenging. We had every piece of clothing on that we owned! There is a "blind" (a concrete building with an open front) from which you are supposed to view the penguins. If the penguins sense humans, they often don't come out of the water. We did finally manage to spot a few on the beach and watched as they preened before going to their nests.
A walk up to the old lighthouse was also on the agenda and it was great – the views were incredible and we saw lots of fur seals on the rocks below. It was still very cold and windy – but the rain at least stopped for much of the walk.
Cathedral Caves were another stop we made while in the Kaka Point area. This is a relatively long walk down to the beach and some very long caves. They are only open a few hours each day because of tides. We thought we hit the time perfectly, but we couldn't get inside the caves because the recent storms had washed away much of the sand and the wind, waves, and tides made the entrances too wet and wild. We didn't want to get soaked. But it was a beautiful beach and good walk.
We stopped at some lovely waterfalls for another nice trek and enjoyed two sets of pretty falls through some nice wooded areas. An old railway tunnel was also on the list of walks and it was a short but interesting walk.
The other fun thing about this area was the moving of sheep on the roads. We would come along some orange cones set in the middle of the road and then suddenly around the corner 50 or so sheep would be coming at you being rounded up by a few dogs. You sit in your car surrounded by the wooly critters as they pass by...then you move on. The person who owned the Airbnb we were staying in for the second part of our Kaka Point stay is a sheep and beef rancher so we learned a lot from her.
The weather wasn't great – bit we took advantage of every decent moment to get our and explore and walk. One day we were stuck in all day with really heavy rain, strong gale winds and cold temps.
After our scenic highway trip and stay in Kaka Point, we made our way to the Otago Peninsula.
That will be the next installment.