After the ice bar, we took our wonderful hosts Debbie and Darren for dinner at a nice local restaurant. It was a wonderful meal and the least we could do for them!
On Saturday we expected to take a scenic flight and then a cruise at Milford Sound
. Our flight was scheduled to leave around noon and we were required to call early in the morning to confirm that the flight would take off as scheduled. We awoke to what looked like beautiful weather in Queenstown, but when we called to confirm the flight, they said the weather was lousy in the air towards Milford Sound and the flight (and subsequently our whole day) was canceled. This was more of a shock than anything else since the weather in Queenstown was sunny. We had mixed feelings about the day being canceled. On one hand we were disappointed because we were excited, but on the flip side, it gave us more time in town and also saved us a fair bit of money.
Sunday, we drove to nearby Glenorchy which is a very scenic drive. However, as we got closer to Glenorchy, it started pouring. Glenorchy is a tiny town famous for being the site of movie shoots. It looks like there are some great walks, but since we arrived in the rain, neither of us were up to getting out of the car. So, after an hour drive, we parked the car and slept in the car for an hour and then headed back to Queenstown. We would have liked the weather to have been better, but at least we got to experience the drive! Back in Queenstown, we said our final goodbyes to Debbie and after 7 incredible nights in Queenstown, left for our next destination. We couldn't have asked for anything more from our hosts in Queenstown
. The entire family was so warm, welcoming, and fun to be with. We felt like we were part of the family for the week. We know we'll stay in touch and look forward to seeing Debbie, Darren, and their family again.
The three-hour drive to the Catlins was beautiful, scenic, calm, and peaceful. The only excitement was when I got pulled over for going 118KM/H in a 100 zone. In the month I've been driving here, I hadn't seen one police officer on the roads or anyone pulled over. Garyn had warned me to watch my speed, but I didn't listen, and it ended up costing me about $105 CDN. In true Kiwi style, the police officer who pulled me over was really nice. I'll go into a bank and pay my ticket before we leave.
Today, we did a driving and hiking tour of the Catlins. The Catlins is an area with many small towns - each having remarkable scenic walks. We started our day of walks at McLean Falls and then continued to Cathedral Cave. This is an area which is privately owned and the cave is about a half hour walk from the carpark. The cave is huge, but unlike other caves we have seen, it's not made from limestone. It's formed by water eroding the rock. The mouth of the cave is absolutely massive on both sides. When we walked through the cave, the middle was really dark due to the size of the cave
. The name was appropriate as the ceiling of the cave truly made it look like a cathedral. Following our next stop at Lake Wilkie we went to the Purakanui Falls, which is the most photographed spot in the area. It was easy to see why as the view of the falls was absolutely stunning. After taking some photos, we ended up just sitting and admiring the falls. Next up was Surat Bay where we took a short walk down the beach before I was shocked to see literally at my feet a massive sea lion. I jumped and turned around to run out of the way and in the process knocked Garyn out of the way as she was behind me. I knew there were sea lions on the beach, but I wasn't expecting to see one at my feet and it was HUGE! The commotion of my quick turnaround and physical contact with Garyn woke up the sea lion, which I did feel bad about. We later learned the sea lion could run 35 KM/H, so it's a good thing it didn't chase me! Our last stop in the Catlins was Nugget Point. We had to drive about 15 KM on a gravel road and then walked another 20 minutes or so up to a lighthouse where we had yet another incredible view of rocks, kelp, birds, and rough waters. Neither of us gets sick of the incredible views we've experienced here in New Zealand. On the walk up to the lighthouse we could hear calls of fur seals, but we didn't see any as we were a considerable distance above the water.
We then left the Catlins and drove (the speed limit and not a KM more) to our next stop, Dunedin where we are excited to spend the next few days.
After my bungy jump, we both thought I deserved a drink! So, we went to MINUS 5 Ice Bar, which is a bar in Queenstown that is made completely out of ice. The temperate was actually colder than Minus 5, giving us a little bit of a taste of what people are going through back home in Toronto. The bar provided us with all of the essentials (jackets, gloves, and Ugg boots for those who needed it). The bar was filled with ice sculptures and even the glasses we drank from were made of ice. People only stay half hour or less, but it was enough time for us to have a drink and remember why we wanted to travel somewhere warm this winter!