" New Zealand Holiday ... 11 . . . To Invercargill "

Date & Time: Saturday / Sunday 12th and 13th November 2011.

Locations : Travelling from Manapouri down to the southern coast of South Island.

Places visited : Lake Monowai, Clifden, Tuatapere, Riverton, Invercargill.

Accommodation : Ian and Jenny Gamble, Fernbirds eco-friendly B&B Invercargill.

With : Ann and myself.

Weather : Overcast clearing to two nice sunny days.


" New Zealand ~11 ~ Invercargill " at EveryTrail

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After our brilliant Doubtful Sound cruise it was back to reality as we travelled by car, south to Invercargill

the southern-most and western-most city in New Zealand.

The journey was about 120 miles (190 km) so even at their leisurely 60 mph maximum speed limit

there was still plenty of time to see the many sights along the way.

We diverted to the attractive sounding Lake Monowai.
Ann looking at the view of the high mountains
The area was popular with tourists and fishermen it seemed.
There were delightful displays of ferns in the more moist hollows.

At the end of the 35 minute walk out along the peninsular we had a reasonable view up the length of the lake to the last of the southern alps.

Three slight problems . . . 1) the thick trees hardly allowed a view,

2) the cloudy weather did nothing to enhance the distant hills . . . and 3) we had to walk the 35 minutes back along the same track.

Still it worked up an appetite for lunch.

The map indicated a "historic suspension bridge" at a place called Clifden,

so we pulled off the main road into this rather dilapidated "historic parking place" to see the bridge and have our lunch.

There was a local information hut but

no-one had booked anything for years.

What we had come to see, however, was the old bridge

which looked remarkably familiar.

Step back in time to the year 1899

Although smaller and over a lesser river crossing, the shape of the towers and the proportions of the bridge

bore a remarkable resemblance to the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol (England)

Hold your cursor over the picture to see an older picture of this bridge or click the link to see the UK one.

Did I mention it was lunchtime ?

A cray fish takeaway, courtesy of the Doubtful Sound cruise with Deep Cove Charters

( We had visited the Manapouri Post office and stores earlier this morning for the extras.)

After our unexpected and delicious seafood lunch, we continued on . . . turning east when we could go no further south.

We had reached the bottom of New Zealand !

We're down where the winds of the roaring forties reach northward

and blow sufficiently strongly and persistently that the macracarpa trees are bent into submission.

At Te Waewae Bay there's a fine lookout where we stop to admire the view.

Here we could look across at Bluff Hill, the headland south of our next destination, Invercargill . . . not far to go now.

Looking the opposite way and out to sea . . . there's nothing between here and the Antarctic ice cap.

Riverton claims the title as the oldest town in New Zealand

being a safe harbour and easily settled in early days by the European sealers and whalers. It was originally known as Jacob's River.

Fishing is becoming secondary to agriculture and tourism . . .
. . . but the town is still proud of its long history.

The red signs on the jetty are encouraging the locals to vote Labour in the national elections due later this month.

- - - o o o - - -

The last leg of this enjoyable drive brought us into the big city of Invercargill . . . home to about 50,000 people.

Two of those residents were Ian and Jenny, living at Fernbirds out on the western side of town, where we had booked to stay.

We had a wonderful welcome when we arrived . . .
. . . from them and from their two Corgi dogs, Kaka and Pippa.

To get away from Ian's busy and noisy printing works job, they had bought a house next to the marshland, well away from the bustle of the city.

Due to their interest on the wildlife of the area, they soon realised they were living next to an important marsh and woodland wildlife habitat

so they have spent many years and loads of energy developing it into a recognised nature reserve which is now open to the public.

With help of local volunteers and conservation groups . . .
. . . they have made a real wildlife sanctuary.

On our first morning there we took the opportunity to walk around the Reserve with Ian and Jenny.

They were able to explain what we could see, and interpret what we could hear, as we walked around the woodland area.

The distinctive Tui bird with his white ruff and musical song.
Fuscia-like flowers on one of the trees.

The Fantail birds were reasonably unafraid and stayed long enough for a photo . . .

. . . using their tails for balance on their perch as well as in flight.

The speckled colour of the rare Fernbird made it difficult to spot in the matching undergrowth.

It was its voice we first heard.

We were very pleased to see this rare bird, after which the Reserve was named.

Climbing down between the reeds and rushes . . .
. . . close to the taller tea tree plants now flowering in the NZ spring.

We stop at the edge of the marsh which bounds the Reserve.

We look out at the wide open views and keep an eye out for harriers and other marshland birds.

Ian and Jenny were passionate about their reserve and with the help of Department of Conservation and others

had managed to add signboards and information all the way round.

They had even provided the occasional bench to relax on so we stopped to appreciate the area even more.

No wonder the short walk took us two hours . . . but it was worth every minute.

Making our way back via an overgrown wildlife pond that Ian had dug out several years ago.

Ann stops under a familiar looking plant . . .
. . . fancy a kiss under the mistletoe ?

The circular tour brought us back to the garden and the house once again.

Ian and Jenny offer tours like this for visitors and school parties. Best to phone first if you are in the area.

The nectar eating Tui Bird with the white ruff

When relaxing over breakfast or coffee we looked out at their bird table where the Tui birds continued to entertain us.

Hold your cursor over the picture to see how they feed from Ian & Jenny's sugar bowl.

The New Zealand Bell Bird

The bellbirds are also nectar eaters so are attracted by the sugar solution in the bowl.

Hold your cursor over the picture again if you enjoyed doing so on the previous one.

Their passion for their Reserve has been rewarded

with recognition as a Ramsar

Wetland of International Importance.


For instance, this has allowed the fernbirds

to extend considerably their numbers and their home range.



They have several environmental awards

and have secured the area

as a legally protected

nature reserve . . .


. . . and they offer the most wonderful

"Bed & Breakfast" accommodation too.


- - - o o o - - -

- - - o o o - - -

One of the joys of running the Loweswatercam site is the interaction we have with you, the viewers.

Two people we had got to know from emails were Lloyd and Ruth Stridiron from Invercargill

so as we planned to be in the area we arranged to meet up with them in person.

Meet Ruth and Lloyd.

They are ex-pat New Zealanders, originally coming from the North East of England. They now live round the corner from Ian and Jenny.

Lloyd spent many a holiday in Lorton Valley and fondly remembers time spent here in the fells and in the old Lorton Pub, the Three Horse Shoes.

We were invited to join them for the afternoon and they introduced us to the local area and its many attractions.

First stop Bluff Hill . . . at the entrance to the river estuary of Invercargill.

Click here or on the photo above for a larger Loweswatercam annotated panorama.

Local notice boards gave details of local history . . .
. . . and some of the unwanted wildlife immigrants that now live in NZ

[ Click on either of the photos above to see larger and more readable copies. ]

Bluff Town, the most southerly of South Island.

Once known as Cambeltown, it was one of the earliest European settlements in New Zealand

and is now home to the deep water port of Invercargill.

A mural depicting the shipwreck of the sailing ship "England's Glory"

This is regarded as the southern extreme of the country,

as in the phrase "from Cape Reinga to The Bluff",

and there is a finger post to mark the spot.

- - - o o o - - -

There is one big island further south, that of Stewart Island

some twenty miles across the Foveaux Straits,

but Bluff is considered the end of the "main land".

On the headland is a giant chain link sculpture by Russell Beck.

There is a Maori legend of their great ancestor Maui who fished from his great canoe and captured a large whale. While he was doing this his canoe was attached to a great anchor stone which he had thrown overboard so as to stop himself being dragged away.

The canoe is represented by the elongated South Island, the whale North Island and the anchor stone, Stewart Island.

The chain symbolises Stewart Island’s legendary link to the South Island as with the anchor to Maui’s canoe.

All the detail was on the notice

We hope to see the other end of the chain when we visit Stewart Island tomorrow.

After lunch, Lloyd and Ruth took us back into town to visit the Southland Museum

where there were several important exhibits that we wanted to see.

Outside was the iconic Invercargill Water Tower . . .
. . . and the anchors from the England's Glory wreck.
Inside Lloyd showed us the ship's figure head
Pictures from the wreck in 1881.

One of the prime cargoes on the boat at that time was iron rails from the Uk . . . for New Zealand's new railway system.

- - - o o o - - -

The main exhibit we wanted to see was Henry the living dinosaur !

The Southlands Museum Trust have a captive breeding programme for the rare Tuatara Lizard.

A close up of Henry . . . more of a dinosaur than a reptile.

The modern species is the only surviving member of the order Sphenodontia, which flourished around 200 million years ago.

His handsome face in close up . . . I hope I look that good (in human terms) at 112 years old.

Tuataras can reach up to 250 years of age . . . he's only a middle aged chap it seems !

Information on the glass window of the centre.
A mini Tuatara offspring, just a few years old.

They now have a breeding plan in place and hope to place the Tuatara back into the wild

on islands that have not been invaded by, or have been cleared of, the predatory species of stoats, rats and possums

- - - o o o - - -

Whilst relaxing in our accommodation in Te Anau a few days ago, we sat and watched a dvd (a rare occurrence) all about "The World's Fastest Indian".

This film told the story of Burt Monro and his successful efforts to become world land speed record holder on his self-modified motor bike.

He became a local Invercargill folk hero when he took his 1920's Indian Scout motor cycle to over 190 mph

setting the land-speed world record at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967 for under-1000 cc motor bikes,

a record which not been broken to this day.

The legendary motor cycle used to achieve the world record.

The original bike was never designed to exceed 60 mph !

The "Munro Special," as Munro called his bike,

is now owned by a motorcycle enthusiast in New Zealand's South Island,

and is on display at E Hayes & Sons, Invercargill.


[ I believe the one at the Museum was a working replica made

for the film but we didn't have time to visit the original at the Hayes store.]

- - - o o o - - -

On the way back through town we passed the old quay side where there was a replica engine from the early railway system in the city.

Note the flat wooden rails and the wheel system used to keep it on those rails.

It didn't last long as the flat rails rotted easily and couldn't cope with the weight.

The steam engines were eventually modified and the wooden rails replaced by the conventional iron rails we know today.

Lloyd and Ruth also took us to Oreti Beach

which featured in the "Fastest Indian" film and was where Bert did many of his speed runs for the bike he built.

At their home, Ann and I looked at some of his Lake District memorabilia

including (top right) a picture postcard of our own house, seen within the view of Buttermere and Crummock from Low Fell.

Our day with Lloyd would not have been complete without a picture of our most southerly

and most distant Loweswatercam correspondent, some 13,800 miles from our home here in Cumbria.

Can anyone beat that ?

- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Fuji Finepix T300, my Canon G10 or 1100D digital cameras.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

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