The first thing we did when we got up in the morning in Owaka was notice some sheep grazing in the front yard of the house next door. Since at allchiara.com we like to embrace stereotypes wheresoever we may find them, I whipped the camera out immediately, making up for all the sheep we hadn’t photographed on the trip.
I also enjoyed this little scene across the street. I feel no garden is really complete without a moat, a drawbridge, and an alligator or two.
We thought we’d try to make Invercargill that day and then get back to Queenstown the next morning in time for my 4pm flight. I don’t know how we ended up at Surat Bay—I guess we’d heard there were sea lions there. It was so so so so so cold, but so wild and windy and lonely that it didn’t matter.
We were just about the only people on the beach…the people in the community do all the trail upkeep…but we did run into an old Kiwi bloke (wearing gumboot and walking his very excitable dog) who told us that there were several sea lions hauled out, including a baby who’d been born there. We walked along the sands until we saw them.
You wouldn’t think that they would be very fast on land, would you, what with the flippers and all, but man. I crossed an invisible line that got me too close to the baby and the mom just reared up and roared at me, causing me to skitter back and lose about ten years off my life in fear. When they started…flippering, I guess…down the beach into the water they were so gracious and gorgeous. I wanted to watch them forever.
We didn’t want to leave, as you’d imagine…I was thinking about building a little beach hut out of driftwood and swimming with the sea lions in the freezing cold water for the rest of my life, personally…but sadly the road and our need to be on it called so once they got into the water and powered off in to the waves we said goodbye and headed along the Southern Scenic Route. We thought about doing one of the shorter hikes on the route but poor Lydia’d had a bad back the entire week so we stopped for a minute at Purakanui Falls on the way instead.
We ended up having a bit of an annoying time on the way back: by the time we got to Invercargill it was only 2:00 and raining and we figured we might as well push along to Queenstown while we were at it, but of course all the hostels were full and of course it was raining and burning cold and we were afraid we’d have to spend the night in the street or something. It did all shake out though and I made it back to Wellington just fine, after several teary goodbyes with Lydia, the best road trip partner ever. It’s been a busy week and weekend since, and my last day of work is this Friday and I leave for Australia a week from today and then it will be time to have even more fun and then it will be time to get another job and make the whole visa thing happen.
It was just really great to have a week of fun and silliness and nature and animals and general awesomeness before all that. It’s hard to believe I’ve been in NZ as long as I have; it feels like I just got here, you know?