Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Waterfalls and wildlife

The picturesque coastline in the far south east is quite long and has lots to see, so we chose a few sights and set off. After the wild and windy weather we’ve had these last couple of days, we woke to nice, settled weather, plenty of blue sky and sun, with only a light breeze. It was coming straight from Antarctica though, so it had a bit of a chill. Shorts and tee shirts, but only just!

It could have been a ‘waterfall day’, so we restricted ourselves to three, the Niagara, McLean and the Purakaunui falls. Expecting something really good from the Niagara falls, we found ourselves laughing when we saw them. 
The expectant sign as we approached them....
A sign alongside said ‘The Niagara Falls were named by a surveyor with an obvious sense of humour who had seen the large North American falls and named these small falls after them.’ 

Niagara Falls NZ!
McLean Falls
Fortunately the other two were worth the walk and were quite spectacular. After the McLean falls we called in for a coffee at the Green Frog Café at the McLean Falls Holiday Park and met the American owner, who was quite a character. He had a business in the USA, sold it, moved to NZ to retire, but ended up buying a farm and then building the holiday camp out of old buildings, designing it as he went along. What a nice guy and staffed by a young UK couple from Derby on a 1 year working visa, who made great coffee.

Purakaunui Falls
The Fordson tractor unit
Along the way we came upon an old timber logging yard, all overgrown, but with a little path through the woods with signs here and there. The old timber shed is just the foundations now, but they had an old Fordson tractor unit on wooden rails that was used to pull/push the logging trailers and lots of posters telling us how hard it was being a logger in the mid 19th century (no sign of high heels though!). I was confused about the Fordson tractor, it said ‘Ford Motor Company’ on it, but underneath ‘Made in England’. I know Ford had (have) plants in the UK, but in the mid nineteenth century?

Strange contraptions at the Lost Gypsy Curios
Our next stop was at the Lost Gypsy Curios, which is a bizarre place built from all sorts of junk components. The guy who runs it has assembled bits of cars, bikes, radios, an electric organ, corrugated iron, tin cans, sea shells – anything, in a very ‘Heath-Robinson’ way. He has an electronic bias, so they either work by pressing buttons or are mechanical and operate by turning handles. It is great fun and well worth a visit, it just can’t be described, it just has to be seen!

More 'stuff' at Lost Gypsy Curios
The mad 'Lost Gypsy' in his workshop

The campsite at Pounawea
After a gruelling day we ended up at a very laid back camp site in Pounawea, right next to the sea. As we booked in we noticed they rented out DVD’s, I bet you haven’t got ‘The Worlds Fasted Indian’ (the film starring Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro from Invercargill we learnt about when we were there), yes they had, so we watched it in our van on our computer last night, stopping up until the un-godly hour of 11:00pm! Great film and worth a watch, Anthony Hopkins in usual top form.

Having decided to stay here another night, we set off to look at Jack’s Blowhole, 200m from the sea it was a very deep hole with the sea rushing in, but despite having arrived at high tide, there was no on-shore wind to make it blow, still, we didn’t care, the day was already complete (and yes it was only 11.30) In order to hit the hole at high tide we’d scrambled round the rocky coast a bit (wondering if this was sensible, but reckoning the tide was nearly in!) B decided he had to ‘contemplate the view’ so I turned round to head back “hurry up, hurry up, HURRY UP” no we weren’t about to be cut off, but there 8’ away was a young yellow eyed penguin. 
Our yellow eyed penguin (a juvenile, his eyes aren't yellow yet!)
He had nowhere to go, nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide, so he did the next best thing and turned his back on us, well if he couldn’t see us, we weren’t  there! However he did keep turning round to check. We didn’t want to stress him too much, so a few snaps and we left him in peace, but he was very cute, and they are hard to get close to.

I'm a big old tired sealion!
Pottered round the coast before returning to the campsite for lunch (and to make the burgers for tea) while waiting for the tide to go out a bit before going to look for sealions. Good as gold, there they were, exactly where marked on the map. They are big, but can stand on their legs and walk or run, really quite fast – never get between a sealion (or seal) and the sea. That’s the advice, but not always easy to do when they are sleeping right up against the dunes, flicking sand over themselves, to keep cool, or to get rid of the flies? We don’t know. Thrilled to see them though, and the difference between a seal and a sealion? It’s all in the shape of the nose, looks like it has been in a fight, squashed nose, sealion. Little dog snout, seal.

Not sure what we’ll see tomorrow, we’ll be a bit off the tourist track, but sometimes that’s really nice, just to potter.
A very talkative Tui (taken into the sun!)
Black swans

All alone on a deserted beach........

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