New Zealand Day Eight: An Evening In Queenstown Then Off To Stewart And Ulva Island
I was disappointed having missed my opportunity to visit Milford Sound because of the cancelled flight from Queenstown. It was one of the highlights of my trip. I still had a good day on my visit to Glenorchy. (I did a blog on my visit while in New Zealand. It can be found in my archives). I returned to Queenstown around 5 p.m. It was a sunny and warm afternoon. After a brief rest at my hotel I took a walk along the waterfront of Lake Wakatipu.
Queenstown is a favorite vacation spot for New Zealanders, or, as they like to be known “Kiwis”. I soon found, that, on a warm, sunny afternoon, like in all resort towns, there were crowds of people enjoying the waterside.
As well as live entertainment provided by all types of performers. Here is a video of one my favorite performances. https://youtu.be/Z47d3IGIWoA
And, of course shops, restaurants and outdoor cafes.
I walked it’s busy streets until I got tired and hungry. There were many fine restaurants but I wanted to eat quick and get back to my room. The internet was good here and I wanted to catch up on some social media and my blog. I also had an early day again in the morning. My shuttle to Bluff arrived at 7 a.m.
So I had a quick meal of shrimp and noodles at an Asian restaurant,
and returned to my hotel. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk in Queenstown. New Zealand Day Seven: Queenstown evening walk. February 12 2019.
I awoke early the next morning. I walked across the street to the information center at 7 a.m. . This is where my shuttle ride to Bluff would pick me. It was a four-hour ride to Bluff. I would then take an hour ferry to Stewart Island.
It was another sunny day and our driver once again provided us with a vast amount of information about the local history and culture as we drove to Bluff.
We drove along one of the two arms of Lake Wakatipu. Our guide pointed out the railroad station that once brought tourists to the area and other significant sites..
We drove through along sheep ranches, some vineyards and even vegetable farms.
We also drove through some small , quaint towns, stopping at one for a short bathroom and coffee break.
I roamed the streets before getting a coffee at this interesting cafe.
I wondered about the car, who purchased it and how it finally ended up inside the cafe. We continued our ride passing through the town of Invercargill.
and finally arriving at the port city of Bluff. Here is a link to some more photographs from my drive to Bluff. New Zealand Day Eight: Drive to Bluff. February 13 2019.
Stewart Island is the third, and smallest, main island of New Zealand. In Maori mythology, it was the anchor of the demigod Maui’s canoe. The South Island was his canoe and the North Island a large fish he caught. There are two ways to get to the island. One is an airplane flight and the other this ferry.
There was a large crowd waiting to board the ferry. I got my luggage aboard and we were soon off to the island in the afternoon sunshine.
I stood on the stern of the boat. I listened to the captain and his first mate provide information about the history of the area and also about the birds we encountered on our ride.
I saw a few seabirds on our voyage including a large white-capped mollymawk.
We soon saw the tree-lined shores of Stewart Island. We docked in the small village of Oban. Here is a link to some photographs from my ferry ride. New Zealand Day Eight. Ferry ride to Stewart Island. February 13 2019.
It was noon when I left the ferry. Before I could gather my luggage, my host Peter, from the Kowhai Lane Lodge was waiting to greet me. It was the start of a wonderful three-day stay on the island. Peter and his wife Anne were the most gracious of hosts. They did everything they could to make my stay enjoyable and provided much insightful information about the island, its flora, fauna and its residents.
Peter told me to grab a sandwich and some water at the local supermarket. A guided tour of Ulva Island was included with my stay. He said there was rain in the forecast for the next two days so we were going to tour the island a 1 p.m. We drove to the lodge where I met his wife, ate a sandwich, and dropped off my luggage. I then joined a group of about seven other people. We drove to Golden Bay and boarded a small boat to Ulva Island.
Ulva Island is a forested wildlife sanctuary and nature preserve about 10 minutes by boat from Stewart Island. Rats and other invasive mammals have been eradicated from the island and rare native birds have been re-introduced.
We departed the water taxi at a beautiful beach and soon were under a canopy of trees. Peter immediately began to introduce us to the native plant life.
We walked under a few large pine trees that were planted by the first settlers on the island. We then learned about many of the plants, from the large rimu trees, some of which could be a 1000 years old,
to the small orchards that grow on the island. It was late summer so many of the plants had already finished flowering.
There were many ferns under the thick canopy of trees. It was a wonderful place to walk, with the sound of the cicadas and birds in the trees above.
And we did see some birds, including a few saddlebacks,
We continued our walk, learning not only about the plants and birds but also about the people who lived on the island, both the native Maori and later settlers.
Peter also spoke about forestry practices, conservation and his career as a fisherman on the island. I learned so much about this remote place and enjoyed every minute of our walk.
We walked to a remote beach on the far side of the island where we continued our search for native birds.
The beach was pristine and made one think of how beautiful it was when the first Maori arrive around 800 years ago.
We were rewarded in our search for native birds when a rare weka appeared on the beach.
This bird is not shy and walked among us as it searched for tiny crabs and mollusks under the rocks of the beach. Here is a link to some more of the birds we saw on our hike. New Zealand Day Eight: Ulva Island birds February 13 2019 .
We watched the weka on the beach for a while and then made our way back under the lush forest. We continued to learn about the region, its people, plants and animals. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike on Ulva Island. New Zealand Day Eight: Ulva Island hike February 13 2019.
We took the water taxi back to Stewart Island and I was back at the Lodge for 4 p.m. once again giving me little time to enjoy its beautiful view. There are only two restaurants on the island and one was booked solid. I had reservations at the other, the South Sea Hotel for 6 p.m.It was a pleasant 15 minute walk from my lodge to the restaurant and I was hungry . And once again they feed me well, starting with a large, hearty and delicious bowl of seafood chowder.
I was full before I had the main course, a local fish with fresh vegetables.
After eating, I was going to spend the evening looking for that rare, and famous New Zealand bird, the kiwi. This rare bird is usually nocturnal but has been seen in the twilight on this island.
I was told a kiwi was seen near Bathing Beach the last few days. So I made my way to the beach but first stopping at the church atop the hill overlooking Oban.
I love visiting churches on my travels.
I walked down to isolated Bathing Beach and sat alone and listened to the crashing of the waves.
I also watched some oyster catchers and other birds along the beach.
The kiwi was sighted on a trail overlooking the beach and I spent an hour walking the trail looking for the kiwi. And I didn’t see it and I couldn’t walk all night.
It was now dusk as i walked back to my lodge. It was another long day in New Zealand, but again an unforgettable one. Here is some more photographs from my evening walk. New Zealand Day Eight Stewart Island evening walk February 13 2019.
“Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that’s always changing!”