Yesterday started badly.
It was blowing hard from the North West when we awoke in Invercargill, so we entertained little hopes of sightseeing on our trip through the Southern Catlins. Our trip Eastward from Invercargill seemed bleak and unrewarding, and I was developing a real respect for those hardy Southern men and women wrapped in multiple layers of clothing and battling a hostile climate and poor soil to make a hard-earned living. We had gone just thirty or so kilometres when we saw a sign that pointed to the Waituna Wetlands.
This is an extensive area of wetlands adjacent to a big tidal lagoon. It looked like an ideal area for bird photography. There were lots of birds out on the lagoon, black swans, ducks, oystercatchers, etc, but the 4.5 km walkway was less rewarding. The most interaction we had was with this red-head and he was a fun guy to be with!
The path is beautifully made, but it seems to spend much of its time taking you through a trench of solid manuka which varies from 2 to five metres in height. It doesn’t make for good viewing, nor does it provide for a lot of visible birdlife. There were plenty of fast movers such as Welcome Swallows, and finches which burst into flight and were gone in an instant, but not much else.
It might be thought that the main virtue of this park was the fact that it offered an hour’s exercise after the amount of time spent sitting on the journey. Though there is a grain of truth in that, at ground level there is much to see by way of ferns, mosses, liverworts, fungi, lichens and other colourful ground organisms.
Somewhere on the circuit, I found evidence of an earlier civilization, in the form of the cab of an old truck. I liked it.
In similar fashion, I liked the deserted old house near the entrance to the wetlands. Its rust-red colour made it leap out of the weeds.
On the way to Owaka, our destination for the night, we paused at Curio Bay to eat our lunch and view the petrified forest. The last time I was here, it was marrow-chillingly cold, and this time was no different. But at least the surf hurling itself against the cliffs provided some visual spectacle.
We were glad to arrive in Owaka where the proprietor of the Owaka Lodge Motel (a good clean basic kiwi motel) welcomed us with a jug of milk, a vase of fresh flowers and fresh muffins. Excellent.