Friday, February 3, 2012

The Southern East Coast

The drive from Fjordland across the island to the east coast is dominated by the sight of vast sheep pastures.  Miles and miles of green rolling hills covered with sheep.  In this sparsely populated area I was surprised to find that nearly every tiny town, seemingly not much more than a gas station and a fish and chips shop, would also have a golf course.  And Once reaching the coastline the view does not differ a great deal except the rolling hills are replaced by steep cliffs.  But tucked in between these farms is the Catlins National Park.

The Catlins, tucked in the south east corner of the south island feels remote at times.  But in reality is closely connected to the surrounding community that has been using the access roads and watershed to support agriculture for centuries.

Farmers use roads to herd sheep
The beginning of the Catlins River Walk
In addition to the forest tucked inland, the Catlins also encompass a windswept coastal area. Here you can see sea lions sleep the day away on the beaches next to deep sand dunes covered in high grass. The coast also has steep cliffs as exemplified by the often photographed Nugget Point.
A pollen covered bumble bee on a thistle
At Nugget point in addition to the great views you can see yellow eyed penguins nest and seal frolic in the surf.
The lighthouse at Nugget Point
Claire at Nugget Point
Driving north from the Catlins leads to Dunedin, home to the Baldwin street, the steepest street in the world!  It actually doesn't seem any steeper than many streets in San Francisco though.

Oddly spherical boulders

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