April 2, 2010
Today was entirely too much driving as we went south from our Kiwi camp in Invercargill down to the Stirling Point signpost in Bluff at the southern end of the island and then back north east to Poolburn Reservoir (almost 300kms). Though on a map Bluff appears to be the southern most tip of the South Island, it is actually Slope Point, which becomes apparent if you examine the compass rose and can understand how the island is positioned. At any rate it is a fun stop and everyone enjoys taking a picture at the multi-directional sign that gives the directions to twelve locations including New York (15,008km or 9,325 miles), Sydney (2,000km or 1,243 miles) and the South Pole (4,819km or 2,989 miles)!
We would like to avoid as much driving as we did today but are feeling the time crunch with 8 days left in New Zealand, and we are also hoping to see our Dunedin friends, The Suttons, at their bach in Twizel before the Easter weekend is finished and they must return home. Queenstown and Wanaka are on our list of things to do also but I wanted to make a point of seeing the Poolburn Reservoir as it was highly recommended by our friend Vivian in New York. I must say it didn’t disappoint!
The landscape is stunning with spectacular rock outcroppings and breathtaking mountain views. We seemed to leave the gray skies behind in the Southland with the sky beginning to clear out just above the mountains and creating a broad array of hues in clear pale blue, lavender and periwinkle and various shades of gray intermixed with streaks of white and ivory clouds. As we climbed and climbed up a rocky unsealed road we thought we’d never reach the reservoir but were determined and a chained gate did not deter us. We assumed the gate was just for livestock since we’d been informed at the 4-square grocery that we could probably free camp here. Alas, we made it and took a deep breath of the cool brisk air as we admired our destination. Only a few small baches (pronounced batches) are nestled around the reservoir and we spied only one vehicle with an empty boat trailer. The place seemed empty until we came upon Keith and Bob doing some plumbing repairs and winterizing of their cabin. (Yes, they are getting ready for winter here and won’t return until spring!) Mike helped the guys load their truck and they were more than happy to let us pitch our tent in front of their place to avoid the wind. Eventually they said the neighbor’s place would be better and that they wouldn’t mind. Gregory went down to water’s edge to help them collect their poles and they were on their way. We set up out of the wind and layered up in our jackets and vests to cook dinner in the chill. After dinner the wind died down and Mother Nature put on a grand display especially for us. We took a nice hot cup of tea and climbed a huge rock formation to sit and view one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve seen! It was a combination of the clouds, warm hues and the peaceful realization that we were for all intense purposes alone out in the wilderness. It is almost indescribable and I almost couldn’t pull myself away. Yet darkness began to fall and the temperature dropped and I was the last of the family to pick my way down the slope and back to camp. What a perfect evening.