Sunday, 13 February 2011

Down to the bottom at Bluff to see a view of the Aluminium Works

South Island to Bluff `

This is a sort of filler blog entry between one interesting place and another. Initially, the road south from Fiordland is very quiet and goes through wonderful scenery , the mountains were looking their best in that there was a lot of rain over them and we were in the sun.

Fiordland passes into Southland and perhaps for the first time here when we were halfway between Te Anau and Invercargill, we felt we were entering an area where perhaps everyone has given up with life. The towns were looking a bit run down, shops were closed, more of the houses were tired and dilapidated and the landscape was very flat (a New Zealand sort of flat i.e. a few lumpy bits included) and windblown.

The Clifden Suspension Bridge has been given a highest

Clifden Suspension Bridge

category landmark status but is in a sad state of disrepair.

Clifden Suspension Bridge-1

In its time (opened in 1899) at 111.5 m, it was the longest suspension bridge in the country and its construction was one of the engineering feats of the time. It was used until the 1978 when a modern concrete bridge opened nearby.

Tuatapere gave some humour with its Sausage Capital

Tuatapere Sausages

Sausage Capital of the World

feel, and perhaps with some desperation, the nearby historic McCracken’s Rest lookout marked the western

McCracken's Rest Lookout

most point of the State Highway system and a view over the sea rather than anything really significant although if you take the signpost away, the view of Fiordland improves a lot.

No Sign

Colac Bay featured a large Surfing Sign – apparently it is

Colac Bay Surfer

big on surfing but the sea was flat when we were there and a local artist had brightened up the School Bus Shelter.

School Bus Shelter

And so we got to Invercargill which although is not one of the most beautiful cities, has a number of redeeming points including some fine buildings such as

City Theatre

the City Theatre

Station Hotel Invercargill

the Station Hotel which is still used as a hotel, and then they build next to it, a wonderful building like this!

Next to the Hotel

It also has the Anderson Park Gallery which has to be the

Anderson Art Gallery

Anderson Art Gallery Hall

place to go to see New Zealand artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, something we have been trying to do since we arrive here. Not only is it open most days from 10.30am till 5 pm, its free and you also can have free tea and coffee whilst there.

As a side note, when we were shopping later in the day, we were talking to a young shop assistant about the museum and she commented that it was a good place to go to see “old artists and paintings” – being in our sixties, we do not regard around 100 years ago as old but I suppose to someone in their teens, it is!

About 30kms further south is Bluff which is famous for being one end of the Kiwi equivalent of “John O’Groats to Land’s End” which is “Bluff to Cape Reinga”. One of our guide books says it is also famous for a view of the Aluminium Smelting Works (the one that the electricity generated at Doubtful Sound goes to) and so here is that picture:

Aluminium Plant Bluff

and for ferries to Stewarts Island which we could not see because of the mist and for a signpost indicating distances to many places (18,928 kms to London)

At the end of New Zealand

and it also marks the bottom end of New Zealand although it isn’t really because a few kms away is somewhere 7 kms further south than here. Bluff also has its share of fine buildings including this closed hotel

Art Deco Hotel Bluff

This may look like a toilet to you but its significance is that

Talking Toilet

it is the southern most toilet in New Zealand! More-over, as you spend your theoretical penny (it is free), a voice tells you how long you have before it opens the doors so that you can admire the sea view even if you are busy, and it also plays music at the same time “What the world needs now is love sweet love” whilst we used it. Just what you expect to find at the bottom of New Zealand!

Now we are heading east through the Catlins and then up north. The weather forecast is for some sun (perhaps?).

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