Curious in the Catlins

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27/02/08
Howdy gang, and how are you all doing today? Me, well, it was a soggy day for ActiveSteve. As such, you’ll have to forgive me, but there aren’t all that many pictures on my map. You can still see my route and all the stats, but not much for entertainment value I’m afraid. For the first while, there really wasn’t all that much reason to pull out the camera anyway. The scenery was just more rolling farmland, with sheep, deer and cows, much like the last few biking days. It was also really coming down, so I was pretty bundled up. Overbooties on, arm warmers, gore-tex jacket done all the way up with the hood over my helmet, and even my ski gloves to keep my hands warm, so as you can imagine, the camera wasn’t in a ready state as it normally would be! All that being said, I guess I can fill up a couple more paragraphs with some info on my day and evening in the beautiful Curio Bay area of the Catlins Coast. So, read on, dear literati.

First clue that I’d be slow going was the fact that I didn’t want to get out of my sleeping bag on the couch. Looking outside confirmed that it in fact was not going to be a nice day. Even though it had rained all night, it was still raining, and showed no obvious signs of letting up for me. As such, I was pretty slow pulling all my gear together and getting set to head out into the wet. However, in spite of my slowness, I still managed to forget some stuff in Invercargill, after I had locked the house doors! What had I forgotten? Well, not much, just my two water bottles filled with Powerade. D’oh. It was probably for the best, as they were starting to look a little grungy with some mildew or mold spores at the very bottom that wouldn’t wash out. So, before even heading out of town, I tacked on an extra 5 or so km to find a bike shop to buy bottles, and coin phone to let Rajesh know. At least I talked the bike shop into a 20% discount on the bottles, which were 10NZD each! Had to have them though.

Once back on the road, it was a grudge match between me and mother nature. The going wasn’t too bad, just rollers for most of the way along the road. In fact, as the day wore on, I felt better and better biking, which was a good thing since the overall ride was just a shade under 100km in total. Just before I got to the sign telling me I was entering the Catlins coast, the rain actually took a little break, enough so that I put away the jacket and extra gear for a little bit to have a snack and snap some pictures as you’ll see on the map. I also stopped for a feast of fries and a pie at one spot, and then a nice piece of chocolate cake at another spot. While there, I also booked my accomodations at the Dolphin Lodge Backpackers in Curio Bay. That meant the pressure was off for the rest of the ride. Yay.

After the main turnoff for Curio Bay, I stumbled across Niagra Falls, NZ-style. Don’t get excited. There were no real falls. With the swollen creek, they just looked like a little whitewater. Ha ha. Good thing it was only 100m off the main road, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered. The next stop along this road was Waikawa. However, there was very little there other than a museum and a take-away wagon called Blue Cod Blues. Hmm, why did I know that name? Of course! This place is owned by the sister of the girl who’s place I went to a barbecue at and who gave me part of a lift to Bluff! Too funny. I stopped in for a Chicken Burger and a chat with the owner. She was very friendly, and was amused that I knew Ang, and that I had stopped in. Truth is, I’ll probably stop in again on my way out tomorrow, as there is NO FOOD down here at all! Other than a little campsite store where I bought some Ramen noodles for supper, and some cookies. Luckily they have ice cream too :-). That means two days of limited rations, but also of saving some coin.

After my burger, I pedalled the final 6km to Curio Bay, and the Dolphin Lodge Backpackers and…. Surf School! Hunh. Imagine that. Well, I’m not just imagining, so tomorrow, I’m booked for a 90min surfing lesson on a longboard. Fun eh? But that’s for the next post. So what else is there around here? Well, Hectors Dolphins (only 6000 left) in the morning, Yellow Eyed Penguins (again, only 5-6000 left in the world), NZ Sea Lions, and an amazing Petrified forest! Cool stuff for such a small area. That evening, I headed over to the Curio Bay to check out the Penguins, they were funny cute little critters, but we couldn’t get very close to them, as they are very rare, and fragile animals. Eventually, the cold got to me, and I headed back to the hostel for the night. Food aside, spending an extra night here is worth it for all the neat eco-stuff here.

Snug as a bug, I had a great nights’ sleep, and was ready for a day of adventure here. However, you’ll have to read the next post to find out more about that. Later kids.

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