Saturday, 15th December – Invercargill to Stewart Island

Reasonably relaxed start to the day. We were due to take the shuttle service that the hotel operate to the airport for our flight to Stewart Island, but due to technical difficulties (i.e. a breakdown) we were given a taxi ride at the hotel’s expense. Very nice touch.

During the ride, we learned that today was one of the biggest days in Invercargill’s calendar, as it’s a full-on horseracing day. It’s also the first day of the summer season as the kids broke up yesterday for the “long summer holiday”, which lasts until mid-January at least. Sounds really odd to a Brit, doesn’t it? Cue loads of screaming kids now, I suppose…..

Proper little airport with a proper little plane to embark on:

We were led out to the plane by the pilot, having seen our bags loaded into what can laughingly be called a hold. For some inexplicable reason, he called forward a bloke who couldn’t have been more than 5’10” tall to sit in the front seat. The reason I say this is that I ended up wedged in a seriously uncomfortable position in one of the rear seats with my right knee hard-jammed against the emergency exit and my left knee well over halfway across the cabin. Purgatory. Jean was hardly any less comfortable. Note to self – ask for a seat with greater legroom on the way back…..

Fortunately, the flight only lasted about 20 minutes but certainly had its bumpy moments.

Landed on Stewart Island and we were taken down into the tiny township of Oban by knackered old minibus. We were immediately picked up and transported to Stewart Island Lodge by knackered old minibus. Lots of old and knackered here on Stewart Island, including yours truly….

Shown around the lodge by Hana, who was a mine of information. It is a truly wonderful place in a truly wonderful setting, and we have a great room. It even provides lemon and ginger tea!!

It’s on bed-and-breakfast terms, and the lodge is only personned from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., so you are left to your own devices outside of these hours.

Our room from the outside
Some bird or other who obviously knew the place

After a short rest, we walked down a very steep hill into the teeming metropolis that is Oban to have a look around.

Half Moon Bay. Yes, really. What a surprise.

After booking a table for dinner at the local pub, we went to the visitor centre, where we picked up some very useful information to help us plan our day tomorrow. We then had a stiffish walk up to a lookout point called Observation Rock.

By God, it was worth the effort as we looked down on the other side of the peninsula into Golden Bay. Gorgeous views.

Maybe not quite such a gorgeous view…..
Ulva Island. We are planning to visit tomorrow. A well-known bird sanctuary and nature reserve.

Regretfully, we headed back down the hill and, less regretfully, headed to the pub for dinner. This was a very nice affair – the food was pub grub, but very well cooked, excellently served and good value (in NZ terms anyway).

Rosy and replete, we wandered back to the lodge via the seafront. The light was an artist’s and photographer’s dream – extraordinary clarity, so I make no apology for including yet more photos of this beautiful place, even if the photos are crap:

There is apparently a bijou restaurant attached to this church with a very good reputation. We’re booked in for dinner tomorrow night.

When we got back to the lodge, we were visited by a couple of parrots of some make or other, who were obviously on the lookout for ill-gotten sustenance. I think they would have entered our room if we’d let them. Anyway, very entertaining.

As I write this, it’s nearly 10 p.m. and it’s still quite light, so any pictures of Oban at night will have to wait until tomorrow’s post.

Plan for tomorrow is to catch the midday ferry to the aforementioned island of Ulva for a self-guided tour, then return for dinner at the aforementioned Church Hill restaurant. Should be a relatively leisurely get-up tomorrow morning after all this excitement…..

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: