Bluff, New Zealand – February 15, 2016
An early taxi collected all four of us, Lorraine, Leslie, Hillary, and me; and deposited us at the Wellington International Airport in plenty of time to make our flight to Invercargill. We had enough time to have breakfast. We chose to eat at Red Rocks. The ordering was a bit trying, and the food was not that good. Regardless, we had full tummies to hold us for the two-hour flight
The de Havilland Dash 8-300 twin-turboprop left Wellington right on time for our flight to Invercargill, New Zealand. Within minutes of taking off, we were skirting along the east coast of the South Island at about 18,000 feet. That provided a beautiful view of the island.
A little more than a third of the way through our two-hour flight, we passed right over Christchurch. In about ten days, we would be departing from Christchurch to go back to Wellington.
Approaching Timaru, we could see the snow-capped Mount Cook. In the Maori language, the name is Aoraki. The mountain, the tallest in New Zealand, reaches a height of 12,218 feet. It is part of the Southern Alps. We knew we would get a better look when we arrive at Fox Glacier later in our trip.
Cloud cover gradually increased as we approached Invercargill until we could not see the ground. No problem, our Kiwi pilots flew through the clouds and landed safely. The air was fresh when we exited the plane, probably around 61 degrees. It felt like some rain was imminent.
Inside the brand-new terminal building, Lorraine and I went to the Budget rental counter while Leslie and Hillary collected our baggage. We rented a Toyota Highlander. It turned out to be a great vehicle, especially with all of the bags we carried.Departing the airport, we drove directly to the Tower Lodge in Invercargill. I did not think we would get our room, but at least we could store our baggage. Much to our surprise, we did get our two-bedroom unit as soon as we arrived. We quickly stored our luggage in the room and got back in the Highlander for our drive to Bluff, New Zealand.
After stowing our baggage in our room at the Tower Lodge Motel in Invercargill, we got back in the SUV and headed south. We had about a 30-kilometer trip ahead of us to Bluff. Bluff is the farthest south city on the southern island of New Zealand. Some bill it as the farthest south point of New Zealand. That is not entirely accurate. The southernmost point is another 670 kilometers (416 miles) south of Bluff, on Jacquemart Island. Regardless, Bluff is the southernmost of towns with 1,000 or higher population.As I was checking in at the Tower Lodge Motel, I told the owner we were heading to Bluff. He said we should be sure to stop at the Oyster Cove Café. The café happens to be across the parking lot from the direction signpost. The direction signpost has several yellow signs pointing the way to various cities and points on the planet and displaying the distance.
I should have taken a moment when we first arrived to take some photographs. It was very cloudy when we arrived, but it was not raining. Instead, I went with the others to the Oyster Cove Café for our lunch. While we sat in the café waiting for our lunch, it began to rain very hard. At least the lunch was excellent. I had the seafood chowder. Chowders are not my favorite, but this was truly amazing.
After lunch, I walked down the hill to get the SUV. Luckily, I had my umbrella with me. I drove back up the hill to pick up the women. Again at the bottom of the hill, rain and all, we stopped for a couple of photographs at the direction signpost. Then it was back to Invercargill.