NZ2020: Day 12, Southland improvisation; Te Anau Bird Sanctuary

February 5, 2020

After the previous few days of constant rain, we were happy to see blue sky this morning. The roads in most directions were still closed by flooding. Fortunately, our guides had grown up in the area, and chose some of their favorite places for our day’s adventure in Southland.

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Snow on the mountains near Te Anau

Image 8-13-21 at 5.58 PM

Today’s route, and stops in Southland.

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Clearing skies above the Southern Alps as we drive south.

Clifden Suspension Bridge

We stopped here to stretch our legs, and to look at the historic bridge over the Waiau River as it continues south to the sea. We had been walking along its banks yesterday near Lake Te Anau.

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Historic Bridge

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Clifden Bridge

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Muddy river – from the recent storms

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The Waiau River is connected all the way upstream to Doubtful Sound.

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Feral rooster

We continued driving south on the Southern Scenic Route, eventually reaching Te Waewae Bay near the mouth of the Waiau River.

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Quintessential New Zealand scenery – sheep and mountains,

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Te Waewae Bay, muddy from the recent storms.

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My Google maps image – showing that I am the closest I have ever been to Antarctica!

We stopped at several beaches and took two longer hill walks while in Southland.

Image 8-13-21 at 6.00 PM

Southland stops

Gemstone Beach

Once on the coast, we stopped first for a walk at Gemstone Beach.

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Gemstone Beach

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Caves in the sandstone

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seaweed

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beach rocks

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oyster catcher

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sandstone erosion

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Orepuki

By this time, we were ready for a coffee break at the Orepuki Beach Cafe.

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Lovely setting and delicious cakes!

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Monkey Island Beach

We took a short walk at another beautiful beach – at low tide one can walk out to the island.

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Monkey Island Beach

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Monkey Island

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Westward view

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Long Hilly Walking track

Next we went on a short hike on the Long Hilly Walking Track to Round Hill, through historic gold mining areas of the 1870’s.

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Tree fern forest

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Tree fuchsias

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Historic mining ventures

Riverton

We continued our drive along the southern coast to the town of Riverton,

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Riverton, Pourakino River Bridge

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Surfer crossing 

then to a beach cove along the drive to Howell’s Point for our lunch break.

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Cove with picnic bench along Rocks Road

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Lunchtime

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Exploring the cove…

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After lunch, we stopped to see the view to the south from Howell’s Point:

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Bluer water away from the river

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Red billed gulls on the beach

Hilltop Lookout

Next, we took another hill walk over the headland – past cows and Balancing Rock.

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Balancing Rock

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And a cow…

After the hike, we drove back to Te Anau, with our guides keeping touch with the flood status of the roads for tomorrow.

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Driving back through Riverton

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View of the flooding rivers and the southern alps beyond

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Sheep again, and the Tasman Sea

Te Anau Bird Sanctuary

We arrived back in Te Anau with time to visit the Bird Sanctuary. Here was a chance to see some of the endangered birds that are endemic to New Zealand. It was a challenge to get good photos through the chain link fencing.

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Entrance to the Birdpark.

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First, the parakeet/kakarike:

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Next, the parrot/kaka:

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We walked past the lake area, and saw some waterfowl…

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Paradise shelduck

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And last we spent quite a bit of time admiring the flightless Takahe, who were running around free range in their enclosure. There were several adults and a chick. they were very odd and fascinating to watch, and gave us a good final interesting new thing for the day.

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Takahe are about the size of a chicken

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Takahe chick being fed

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Both beaks and feet look formidable!

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Takahe

I enjoyed our improvised day in Southland. It was all new landscape to me, and as with everyday day so far, brought me surprising new views and experiences. Tomorrow, we were returning to our originally scheduled tour, and going back to Queenstown to take a hike up a mountain called Ben Lomond.

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The only kiwi bird we saw at the bird sanctuary. It is extremely rare to see one anywhere, as they are nocturnal and almost extinct. There are a few refuges one can visit, but we did not seen on our trip.

One thought on “NZ2020: Day 12, Southland improvisation; Te Anau Bird Sanctuary

  1. Pingback: NZ2020: Day 13, Ben Lomond hike | Margaret Quilts

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