Monday, February 04, 2008

to the catlins

I was a bit unsure about the journey ahead, it was on a guided tour bus with a notorious reputation for rowdy drunken student backpackers, but it was going in the direction that i wanted and included stops at interesting places along the way. The company, Kiwi Experience, locally known as Kiwi Experiment or the F**k bus runs an 'add on' trip through the catlins area (south east corner of the island) on the Bottom Bus, a 20 seater and it turned out to be excellent fun. My fellow passengers did not fit the expected category and were great, i ended up being slightly disappointed that i was only with them for a day before arriving at Curio Bay.

The scheduled stops included a 30min walk to the McLean waterfalls, a lighthouse, the craziest house truck containing hundreds of interactive, minature inventions put together from scrap bits and pieces - several beaches for a quick photo and coastline that included a petrified forest - see above.

I arrived at my destination at 5pm and was in the sea having a real surfing lesson within the hour. The waves were perfect for learning, the sun was still warm and the beach all but deserted. As our lesson progressed, there were 6 of us learning, the resident pod of dolphins decided to join us to surf the waves. They stayed for about 15 minutes and had much more fun than us, catching every wave and really showing off. They live in the bay and can be seen from the coast almost all the time, so i watched them from the balcony of the backpackers whilst eating my tea, in the morning before my next surf lesson and later on whilst walking along the seemingly neverending beach.

If the bus hadn't been booked i would have stayed another couple of days, but it was, so i headed off with another Kiwi experience group back to the lovely Invercargill for the overnight stop on the way to Te Anau. Ange, Shopa and Julian were heading for the same destination, so, in true traveller style, we gravitated together and made the best of the town that evening. We tried to get lost on the grid of streets, saw the prison and a wonderful sunset, had Pizza Hut for dinner and used our discount beer vouchers to their maximum capacity in the pub next door.

A fairly early start and we headed out of town, not a moment too soon, on the next leg of our journey on the bus.

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