The Back of Beyond

Day 6…. Waipohatu Falls tramping track 4 miles 3 hour return loop through typical catlins bush to two waterfalls, 6miles west of Curio Bay. Beautiful clear blue skies without the ever present howling wind for this, our first more strenuous walk.

We started from the picnic area following the designated pathway, first through dense forest, over a track bridge, out into an open grassy footpath and back into dense forest, where the real uphill  challenge would shortly start, following a stream through the thick Catlins bush.

Long-sufferings smiling face soon changed dramatically with the exertion of steep climbs, many steps, and some uneven, muddy, barely passable ground although the fern logs laid across the paths did alleviate most of the mud. Clothes were discarded left, right and centre as sweating man returned. A foot slide along a damp tree root, arms flailing, only a neighbouring tree saved him from the forest floor. Not so his muse as dodgy leg crumpled on a particularly high step, sending me down instead! In spite of these almost mishaps the ‘tramp’ was well worth the effort.

A spur track led us down to the two very different falls, the tracks to each in opposite directions but just five minutes apart. The higher fall was partly obscured by trees and vegetation…..

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Whereas the lower fall could be seen in all its spectacular glory cascading, foaming as it plunged downward.

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We viewed the fall from a boardwalk set back beyond a shallow, rushing run of water over rocks, stone and dead tree trunk.

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of course the long-suffering had to cross this for his best shot while the muse stayed put with the surplus kit!

The walk was surprisingly quiet, only one other couple did we meet along the way, giving the illusion we really were in the back of beyond!

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Waipapa Point Lighthouse, southernmost lighthouse on the South Island…. we took the short walk from the car park to the lighthouse and then down to the beach area and exposed reefs. 

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The lighthouse was built after the tragic 1881 shipwreck of the ‘Tararua’ where 131 out of 151 passengers died 1km off shore. Information panels document this tragedy, the early history of the lighthouse and its keepers. 

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We strolled the rugged reefs and beach area, there were plenty of tourists but the sea-lions were absent.

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A notice board warning we were in a Tsunami Hazard Zone gave us both a reality check. Two scuba divers emerged from the sea carrying their supper in the form of large meaty looking snails that apparently made good mince!

Last Light Lodge Tuatapere, our stop for the night…. A lovely, friendly powered site with freshly laid eggs, and wonderful baked bread to purchase amongst other seasonal delights as well as a cafe/bar to eat and relax in.

Although mid afternoon when we arrived, the still clear blue skies and warm sun meant laundry was washed and then dried on our handy rope line. We sat out in shorts and t.shirts with a couple of cold beers enjoying a perfect spring afternoon.

Later it was my turn to cook – it mostly is – today’s offering was Prawn curry with a side of mini Naan bread.

Day 7…. A head in hands moment from Long-suffering started our day as he realised the dirty water hose – his department – had been left two overnight stops 320 miles away. All the placating ‘it is not just your fault, I could have checked too’ did nothing to lift his mood. Luckily our site hosts had a level paddock and pliers for the valve and were happy to allow our wash up water to drain straight from the van.   Though fully insured against ‘grey’ moments such as these it was embarrassing having to make the call to Wilderness none the less, not helped by our next destination – one of the remotest places in New Zealand – Milford sound where we would be off grid for at least two days. In the event a replacement pick up point was arranged and we were free to continue on our way. Lesson learned, a dump station tick list was written. 

Leisurely drive to Milford Sound, beautiful and scenic as the winding roads led nearer and nearer to the snow covered mountains.

We made a brief stop first in Te Anau. In contrast to the previous day the rain and wind was back with a vengeance. We walked into town to stretch our legs, for a spot of window shopping and food supplies. We did make one purchase …an umbrella!

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D.O.C. Cascade Creek…. our freedom camp spot for the night. We arrived here with the rain still falling, but nestled as we were below snowy capped mountains it mattered not. There were brief windows of dry in between the showers, enough for Long-suffering and his lens to do battle with the ever present sandflies alongside Cascade Creek. A beautiful, peaceful location to end a day that began so stressful!

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